BNHS Earthworm Identification Workshop

We have now agreed with the Earthworm Society of Britain that the BNHS Earthworm Identification Workshop will take place over two days Sat 17 - Sun 18 March 2018. The Saturday will be spent in the field collecting specimens, when we will hope to visit several sites covering different habitats. The Sunday will be spent indoors at the Greensand Trust Working Woodlands Centre, Maulden Wood, Haynes West End, Beds, MK45 3UZ. Participants should bring a packed lunch for both days but tea, coffee, juice and biscuits will be available on the Sunday.

Close-up photo of Dendrobaena veneta by ESB Dendrobaena veneta, a compost earthworm (from ESB website)

The tutors will be Keiron Brown (Recording Officer) and Frank Ashwood (Research Officer) from the Earthworm Society of Britain. You will learn how to sample earthworms and how to identify them. The ESB are covering the tutor expenses and cost of kit for the attendees and BNHS are paying for the hire of the indoor venue. As such this event is being offered for a fee of just £15 per person. As a part of this participants will receive a copy of the new edition of the FSC key to Earthworms (which will include synanthropic species) and the ESB Earthworm Recorder's Handbook.

The number of participants will be limited to just ten. We are confident from preliminary interest already indicated that these places will fill, especially as the workshop will be offered nationally to ESB members. However we hope to get as many of participants from Bedfordshire as possible. The Earthworm Society will be managing the bookings and taking payments but if you are interested and wish to reserve a place do let me know asap at alanouten@virginmedia.com

Earthworms are of course a very important group, influencing (and benefitting) the soil ecosystem in a number of ways. Charles Darwin was fascinated by earthworm behaviour. He tested their intelligence, food preferences and sensitivity to noise, light and sound. He wrote: “It may be doubted whether there are many other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly organised creatures.”

There are just over thirty species of earthworm recorded for the UK in natural environments with every prospect that there are more to be discovered. Given the success of Beds Invertebrate Group in finding species new to Britain in recent years we hope that this might continue with a new earthworm discovery! At present our knowledge of the group in the County is very limited with just two of us contributing records so they are very much a 'neglected group'. This is why ESB and BNHS are largely funding the cost of the workshop so please do take advantage of this opportunity. We are determined to make it a success.