Earthworm Society AGM 2023

The 2023 Annual General Meeting for the Earthworm Society of Britain took place on 22 November 2023 virtually via Zoom (hosted by the Biological Recording Company). Full meeting minutes will be disseminated to all members and below is a summary of some of the highlights.

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1. Chair's Report

Emma Sherlock

Thanks so much to everyone for attending our AGM. I hope you’ll all be staying to listen to the talks by some of our fabulous committee members tonight. I’m very much looking forward to them.

Then onto business. This year there have been a few changes. We are still very much a biological recording and research-based society. So training new biological recorders, supporting and encouraging our existing ones, keeping our data as accurate and useful as possible (with stringent verification), categorising entries making them as useful to the research community as possible, and targeting our sampling to enable us to capture earthworm data where we are lacking it. This work grows and evolves to greater scales year on year and the society is still a leader in the sector with this, which is excellent. The change though is that the FSC BioLinks project which we were partners on, ended and so we have had to forge a new way with our training courses. Keiron, who I’m sure you know,  our excellent Recording officer, has started up the biological recording company- running excellent talks but also training. So we have been able to develop a new partnership and the training can continue. Some training is free others is paid for but it’s always reasonable and provides the excellent launchpad our new recorders need to get started. Keiron will update you on the details of all this but things are going from strength to strength.

All this work is now paying off with some significant achievements and news this year. The paper, I mentioned last year, which Frank working on and had presented at the International Earthworm Ecology Conference in France has now been submitted for publication. It has used our fabulous recording dataset and is changing the way we look at our sampling strategy and arming us with knowing a lot more about the conservation status of earthworms in the UK and how they specifically are tied to their habitat. This is hugely important work and will be used by Natural England and other policy-making bodies to inform choices in the future.

We have teamed also up with the biological recording company, the Darwin Tree of Life programme and earthworm researchers from Dublin to establish the first record of Kenleenus armadas in the UK, and will be releasing a post about that soon as well as establishing categorically the presence of Eisenia andrei in our compost bins this year. Thanks to everyone who helped with this.

So we are making a big difference not just in the UK for our knowledge about the species we house but also are known and respected on the International stage. I am so proud of what the society- through our fabulous committee members and our amazing members and recorders, are achieving.

Our membership continues to grow and now sits at 510 members – nearly 90 more than last year. It’s thanks to membership contributions that we’re able to do all fo the work that we do and any non-members on the call are very welcome to join us by signing up via the link in the chat.

So the final thing for me to do is say a huge thank you to everyone for all their hardwork. Its not easy with busy lives ; Keiron has had to take on the Membership Officer role this year as well as the Recording Officer role, Kerry has moved to Ghana but is still managing to be an excellent Secretary and keeping us in line with meetings etc, Frank is now in New Zealand but will still be joining us tonight… just to mention a few.. So thanks so much to all our committee members, all your work and commitment is very much appreciated.

2. National Earthworm Recording Scheme Report 2023

Keiron Derek Brown


3. Digging Through the Dust: Rediscovering Historic Earthworm Records in Museums and Publications

Kerry Calloway

Hear about Kerry's work this year extracting data for earthworm records from museum collections and historic publications.

4. An Analysis of Earthworm Records and Habitat Associations in the British Isles

Dr Frank Ashwood

In this project, Frank and his collaborators analysed the National Earthworm Recording Scheme datasets, to reveal earthworm species-habitat associations, and identify trends in amateur naturalist and research earthworm recording.

5. Earthworm Image Recognition Project

Keiron Derek Brown

Keiron discusses his work with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology to see if image recognition technology can be used to identify earthworms from live photos.