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 [email protected] if you have any questions.
    • Please note that this course will involve using specimens that have been killed and preserved.

This course is aimed at adults only and course attendees must be at least 18 years old in order to attend.

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 below for more information about this course.

Course Fees

Subsidised Price: £10   Subsidised by the FSC BioLinks project for non-professionals eg. volunteers, biological recorders, wildlife gardeners, amateur naturalists and students.Available to UK residents only.   Select ‘Attendee Subsidised: In Person

Regular Price: £75   For professionals and residents outside of England.  Select ‘Attendee: In Person. Sold Out

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.

In his spare time, he is the national recorder for earthworms (running the National Earthworm Recording Scheme on behalf of the Earthworm Society of Britain) and the Chair of the Ecology & Entomology section of the London Natural History Society. 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. The courses Keiron teaches include Discovering iRecord, Identifying Terrestrial Invertebrates with Microscopes and our various earthworm courses.

Tutor: Kerry Calloway

Kerry 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 she began specialising in earthworms.

Kerry is a trustee for the Earthworm Society of Britain and has been for over 8 years. Kerry is the society Secretary and designs the annual strategy for the recording society. In addition, she regularly runs earthworm identification training courses and events.

Covid Measures

In order to keep our customers and staff safe, we ask that anyone attending our centres:

  • Wears a face covering when in shared indoor space (unless exempt).
  • Maintains social distancing.
  • Cleans their hands regularly.
  • Takes a Covid-19 test before they arrive.

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00 am.
  • Refreshments will be available from 9.45 am.
  • The course will end at 4:00 pm.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • 6 hours of tuition
  • Certificate of attendance
  • Access to a microscope, identification resources and specimens

Bursaries and Subsidies

FSC BioLinks

FSC BioLinks is an exciting project for FSC in the South East and West Midlands, bringing together existing volunteers with skills in biological recording and identification, and new volunteers.

This project provides subsidised training courses, learning opportunities and digital tools focussed on invertebrate identification for anyone involved or interested in biological recording, to build and strengthen the community.

Invertebrates provide us with many useful ecosystem services, like pollination and decomposition, which we cannot survive without but their numbers are declining. Few people know how to identify or record invertebrates meaning there is a lack of data

We are delighted to have been awarded a grant of £1.23 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this project.

Before You Attend

Getting to FSC London: Bushy Park

FSC London: Bushy Park, c/o The Royal Parks, The Stockyard, Bushy Park, London

Information on getting to the site can be found here.

When you arrive at The Stockyard gate you may need to call the centre to open the gate. You can reach the staff on site on 020 8941 4398.

What to bring

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch
  • If you have your own copy of the 'Key to the Earthworms of the UK & Ireland' bring it with you so that you can make notes in your own copy.
  • Any earthworm specimens that you'd like verified (tutor availability during the course permitting)

Please note that this course will involve using specimens that have been killed and preserved.

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical requirements please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

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