As part of my research into human effects on soil biodiversity I have been developing a citizen science project in partnership with the Earthwatch Institute and the Natural History Museum and in association with the Earthworm Society of Britain.
Citizen science is the use of the public in collecting and/or analysing data and is an excellent way to increase geographical coverage of data and sample in private gardens, urban parks, and other green spaces make up a large percentage of the UK area, but are rarely sampled by scientists. It is also a great opportunity to engage the public in soil science.
The main Earthworm Watch survey requires digging a soil pit in two areas of different habitat (e.g., lawn/flowerbed or management; fertilised/unfertilised). For each soil pit the habitat, number and types of earthworms, and soil properties are recorded. This paired study design controls for differences in effort and ability between participants, avoiding the main problem with analysing citizen science data.
For the past year I have been busy developing the project – including the training materials, website, planning engagement activities and events. The project is now live and data is starting to come in! Find out more at: www.earthwormwatch.org.
I hope it will be worth it!