Choosing a method
Youíve chosen your site, what now?
By sure you bring copies of the Worm Watch Location and Observation forms to your sample site.
When you arrive at your site, write a site description on the Location form. Please fill in as much of the information as possible.
On the Observation form, please be sure to indicate which Protocol(s) you used to collect your data!!!! Remember, we want to use your data!!!!
If your site is far from home, print out a copy of the Taxonomic Key and the General Earthworm Diagram to help you identify your worms.
The following sections direct you through each of the three sampling protocols. So, look for the Protocol that best suits your project or Worm Watch outing.
Worm Watch requires you to use the National Sampling Protocols (by Jill Clapperton for EMAN, 1996) that are provided for the program so the data you collect is collected in the same way as all other participants. Data sheets are provided for you to record your information.
- National Sampling Protocol 1 - Flip and Strip
Some earthworms species live on or very near the soil surface, and under the bark of fallen trees and shrubs. To find these earthworms you need to flip over rocks, logs and other bits of deadfall and strip back the bark on the soil-side of fallen logs. This protocol is very useful in wooded or wild areas where it may not be practical or advisable to dig a hole (too many roots or rocks).
- National Sampling Protocol 2 - Modified Hand-Sorting
This protocol is used to determine the number and species diversity of earthworms. With this protocol you can study what species of earthworms live and work at different depths in the soil if you use this protocol. This protocol is not always the best method for sampling in natural or difficult areas. If you want to sample several sites in open areas this is a very good method.
- National Sampling Protocol 3 - Quantitative Hand-Sorting for Short and Long-Term Monitoring
This protocol is used to determine the number and species diversity of earthworms in a specific volume of soil, at two soil depths. This sampling protocol was specifically designed for the Worm Watch farm monitoring program and can be used for any project that is monitoring earthworm populations and species diversity over some period of time, days, months, or years.
Once you have decided where you will sample and whether or not you will compare sites, you need to decide which protocol to use!!!
- Protocol 1 - Flip and Strip is the easiest sampling method to use. If youíre sampling in a small area or donít want to disturb the vegetation in the sample area, this is the protocol for you.
- If you are a keen Worm Watcher, you can use both Protocol 1 Flip and Strip and Protocol 2 - Modified Hand-Sorting depending on your site. If you are comparing sites you need to use the same sampling method at both sites.
- f you are monitoring earthworm populations (e.g. in the EMAN forest plots) you should use Protocol 3 - Quantitative Modified Hand-Sorting.
If you need some help with deciding on how to design your experiment, where to sample, or what protocol to use ask Worm Watch. We would be happy to help out in any way we can. We respond to email, phone, fax, letters and website questions, just ask us!!!