There are 29 species of earthworm living freely in soils in the UK. They are vital to the economic health of our country, as they are crucial for soil health, food production, waste decomposition and even flood mitigation.
Despite their importance, relatively few people are skilled in identifying earthworms to species level. Identification of earthworms involves inspecting specimens under a microscope to observe key morphological features that are often too small to see with the naked eye. However, with only 5 features used to distinguish between the 29 species, earthworms are a great group for novices. Learn the difference between a tanylobic and epilobic head type, how to record the position of the clitellum and how to determine if the setae on an earthworm are closely or widely paired.
This course provides an introduction to identifying earthworms using the FSC AIDGAP Key to the Earthworms of the UK & Ireland. This includes a short presentation introducing the morphological features used to identify specimens to species level and support from an Earthworm Society of Britain tutor throughout the practical sessions.
- Certificate upon course completion.
- Endorsed by the Earthworm Society of Britain.
- Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
- Please note that this course will involve using specimens that have been killed and preserved.
What will be covered during this course?
- The external (morphological) features used in earthworm identification.
- How to work through the Key to the Earthworms of the UK & Ireland to determine earthworm specimens accurately to species level.
- Practical experience observing earthworm ID features using a microscope and specimen collection.
- No microscope experience is necessary – our tutors will set up and show you how to use a microscope.
See the ‘Example Timetable’, ‘What’s Included’ and ‘Before You Attend’ sections on the Field Studies Council website for more information about this course.
Tutor: Keiron Brown
Keiron Derek Brown first became interested in invertebrates during a field-based entomology module at university and went on to volunteer on soil biodiversity research projects at the Natural History Museum (London). This included sorting samples of invertebrates to order level and sampling invertebrates across the New Forest in Hampshire and the Malaysian rainforests of Borneo.
Keiron now manages the FSC BioLinks project, with the aim of inspiring amateur naturalists to take up the identification and recording of invertebrate groups that are often forgotten and rarely recorded. He teaches our Discovering iRecord and earthworm courses. In his spare time, he is chair of the Ecology & Entomology Section of the London Natural History Society and is the National Recorder for earthworms (running the National Earthworm Recording Scheme on behalf of the Earthworm Society of Britain).