FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Identifying & Recording Earthworms

  • Location: Juniper Hall
  • Tutor: Keiron Brown and Kerry Calloway
  • Dates: Friday 16 November 2018 to Sunday 18 November 2018
  • Level: Beginners

This course is fully booked on this date but you can join the waiting list (by scrollling to the bottom of the page) in case space becomes available or it is run on another date.

There are currently 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. They are also a vital food resource for many other species of wildlife. In addition, they were a lifelong obsession of Charles Darwin, and have many fascinating behaviours.

This weekend course will provide an introduction to earthworms as a group, their natural history, how to collect them and how to identify them to species level using microscopes. The course will be a mixture of classroom sessions and fieldwork. The course is suitable for those with an interest in earthworms, and no experience of microscopes or earthworm identification is necessary (but please note that we will be working with dead specimens, which are essential for accurately identifying species). By the end of the weekend participants will:

  • Have learnt about the natural history and different ecological roles of earthworms
  • Understand what is known about current UK earthworm distribution, and why we need to know more
  • Have had experience of field methods for collecting earthworms
  • Be able to prepare specimens for investigation under the microscope
  • Be able to use keys and microscopes to confirm earthworm species identification
  • Know how to record earthworms to the standards of the national recording scheme.
  • Know what to do to take their interest further.

Please note that this course will involve the use of specimens that have been killed and preserved.

Keiron Brown and Kerry Calloway first became interested in soil invertebrates when volunteering on 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. This is also where they both began specialising in earthworms.

Both Kerry and Keiron are committee members of the Earthworm Society of Britain and have been for over 6 years. Keiron is currently the Recording Officer for the society and runs the National Earthworm Recording Scheme. Kerry is the society Secretary and designs the annual strategy for the recording society. In addition, both regularly run identification training courses and events and have clocked up over 30 training courses over the past 5 years.

This course is heavily subsidised by the FSC BioLinks Project (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund).

Further Information

Course details
Directions to Juniper Hall
About Juniper Hall

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