Discovering Earthworms

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For a wriggling and slimy invertebrate, earthworms have a good reputation. Most people recognise that earthworms are important, but few understand the true power of these ecosystem engineers or even that not all earthworms are the same.

Find out how different types of earthworm perform different ecological roles and be prepared to be surprised at some of the natural processes that earthworms contribute to. This course will arm beginners with the underpinning knowledge needed of earthworm biology, ecology, behaviour and diversity to embark on their earthworm journey, as well as putting this knowledge into practice by finding earthworms in their natural habitat and categorising them into one of four ecological categories.

  • 4-week online course for adults, with a weekly time commitment of 3-5 hours per week.
  • Access to study content, activities and tutor-graded assignments through the FSC virtual learning platform.
  • Access to weekly live virtual classroom sessions at the end of each week with the course tutor through Zoom (recorded for those that are unable to attend the live sessions).
  • E-certificate upon course completion.
  • Endorsed by the Earthworm Society of Britain.
  • Learners will need to have access to and be able to use a spade (or have someone willing to help) to fully complete this course.
  • Please note that this course is NOT a species identification course and will only go as far as categorising British earthworm species into 4 ecological categories.
  • Please email biolinks@field-studies-council.org if you have any questions.
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What topics are covered in this course?

  • SIN101 Earthworm Biology will start with what makes an earthworm an earthworm and where earthworms fit within the tree of life. We will then provide an introduction to the biology of earthworms, including their anatomy and some of the biological processes occurring within the earthworm.
  • SIN102 Earthworm Ecology & Behaviour will explore the role of earthworms within the ecosystems that they inhabit. We will start with the findings of Charles Darwin regarding earthworm intelligence and the role of earthworms in bioturbation. We will then move on to various behaviours of earthworms, including burrowing, dormancy and dispersal.
  • SIN103 Earthworm Diversity will explore how British and Irish earthworms can be categorised by their ecology and behaviour into 4 ecological categories, with guidance on how to determine the ecological category an earthworm belongs to in the field based on the size, colour and pigmentation of an earthworm. We will then look a little further afield and discuss the diversity of earthworms globally, with a look at some amazing species found outside of the British Isles and the impact of British & Irish earthworms in ecosystems they have been introduced to abroad.
  • SIN104 Finding Earthworms will put the things that we've learned about earthworms into practice and look for earthworms in their habitats. This will involve looking for earthworms and earthworm field signs in your garden or allotment (or local park). We will ask you to search above-ground habitats for earthworms and look for earthworm field signs.

This course will be taught by ESB tutors Kerry Calloway and Keiron Derek Brown.

Location

Virtual

Cost

£20 - £60

Start

End

Event type

Ecology course

Event level

Introductory