Earthworm Record Enhancement

Author

Keiron Brown

Keiron Brown is the Recording Officer for the ESB. His role includes delivering training courses, verifying records and supporting recorders to keep the National Earthworm Recording Scheme running.

Biological Record diagram
Basic data components of  a biological record

A biological record in its most basic form is a record made by a person of an organism occurring at a place at a specific time. Therefore, in order for any biological record to be accepted it must have four basic components:  

  1. Who: the name of the recorder (person who found/saw the organism) and determiner (person that identified the organism).
  2. What: the name of the organism seen (i.e. the species/genus/family).
  3. Where: the location where the organism was seen.
  4. When: the date the organism was seen.

Therefore, every record in the National Earthworm Recording Scheme database has these four pieces of information. However, there is a fifth important piece of information that can really increase the usefulness of a record: Why

Deadwood habitat in Richmond Park (London)
Deadwood habitat in Richmond Park (London)

We are particularly interested in filling in the gaps regarding two pieces of ‘Why’ information: Habitat and Sampling Method (the latter allows us to determine Microhabitat). 

I will be going through all of our National Earthworm Recording Scheme records and trying to determine the Habitat and Sampling Method for those records that do not have values recorded for these fields. This will be a two-step process:

Step 1: I will review the comments of records with no Habitat and/or Sampling Method recorded and add in values where the comments provide sufficient information.

Step 2: I will contact the recorders any records where we still have blanks for habitat and sampling method to enquire if they have this information to add to the records that we hold.

Adding this information to our records allows us to start investigating important questions, such as ‘Are certain earthworm species associated with specific habitats?’ and ‘Which sampling methods are most likely to turn up specific species?’. As always, we will be making the data open access through the NBN Atlas and GBIF so that it is available to all (including researchers and policy makers).

How can earthworm recorders help in the future? By using the Earthworm ‘species group form’ on iRecord – this will automatically ask you to provide a habitat and sampling method: https://www.brc.ac.uk/irecord/enter-earthworm-record