Earthworms project

Jump to...


Earthworms have been strongly identified as a group that could make a useful contribution to surveillance, particularly as indicators of soil health. Interest in the ecological significance of earthworms dates back to Charles Darwin (and beyond) and yet we still know remarkably little about their distribution and abundance in the UK. Given the vital role they play in governing the ecological health of our soils, on which the whole of our society depends, this is a startling omission in our national biodiversity surveillance.

Without the work of this humble creature, who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible.

Charles Darwin, 1881

Earthworm Society of Britain

In recognition of this situation, a group of young earthworm recorders have developed a new national recording scheme devoted to recording earthworms: the Earthworm Society of Britain (ESB).This exemplar project will work with the ESB to support the development of the society and promote the uptake of earthworm recording and surveillance.

Earthworms.  Photo: M Noble


We can use the relationship between FSC and ESB to explore new models for working with a small national recording scheme, helping to provide training and, potentially, identification resources in new media. The society is quite unusual amongst small recording societies in that it actively promotes a recording protocol and promoting this is another area of interest for Tomorrow's Biodiversity.


Follow link under the ESB logo on the right to visit their website. Reports on the 2014 recording season can be found here.

2015 ESB Field Meeting

In March 2015 hosted the Earthworm Society of Britain at Preston Montford for one of their field meetings.  Samples collected during fieldwork at Powis Castle and Preston Montford allowed attendees to learn the skills involved in earthworm identification.

Blog post: '...Through the Action of Worms...'

PDF download - ESB Field Meeting report.

Shropshire Earthworm Blitz

On the weekend of 1st/2nd August 2015 we hosted a Shropshire Earthworm Blitz  - a weekend of intensive earthworm surveying and identification designed to welcome those new to earthworm recording, and allow current recorders to get together to 'troubleshoot' ID problems etc.  Earthworm sampling at Melverley Meadows.

We visisted four Shropshire sites to collect earthworms - Cole Mere, Melverley Meadows, Fordhall Farm and Quarry Wood - and participants also brought earthworms they'd collected elsewhere for identification.  In total we generated over 30 new Shropshire earthworm records, of 12 different species.  The team was joined by Keiron Brown of the Earthworm Society of Britain - his report of the weekend is coming soon!

Blog on the Blitz

2016 Earthworm ID weekends

In 2016 is supporting the Earthworm Society of Britain in the delivery of two Identification Weekends.  One will be held at FSC Rhyd y creuau in Gwynedd, and one at FSC Slapton Ley in Devon.  See the ESB page for more info. is also running an earthworm ID Weekend in Shropshire in April - a day of fieldwork followed by a lab based identification workshop. In early 2016 we will also publish an online atlas of Shropshire earthworms.