How to Participate in WormWatch

Ready to start wormwatching? Here’s your step-by-step guide with tips below!

  1. Choose a site
  2. Choose your method and protocol
  3. Use the data sheets record your observation
  4. Submit your data through this website

Choosing a Site

You can sample almost anywhere, but remember: earthworms like moist, cool soil. This means that there will be more earthworms around at wetter and cooler times of the year, or near water ways, ponds, rivers, lakeshores and other consistently wet places.

Worm Watch requires you to use the National Sampling Protocols that are provided for the program. This way you can collect data in the same way as all other participants. When choosing a site, ensure that you:

  • Ask permission to sample if it is not your land
  • Seek permission to sample in Conservation Areas, Nature Reserves, Biosphere Reserves, Provincial Parks
  • Never sample or remove anything from National Parks

Before you leave to do your field sampling, read the method thoroughly and be well organised! There should be very little evidence of your sampling efforts after you are done. Try to put everything back as you found it.

Choosing a Method

You’ve chosen your site, what now?

Worm Watch requires you to use the National Sampling Protocols (by Jill Clapperton for EMAN, 1996), which are provided for the program, so that you collect data in the same way as all other participants. WormWatch provides you with data sheets to record your information. The National Sampling Protocols include:

  • 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
    • Strip back the bark on the soil-side of fallen logs

    Use this protocol if you are collecting data in wooded or wild areas, where it may not be practical or advisable to dig a hole (i.e. too many roots or rocks).

    Flip and Strip is the easiest sampling method to use. If you’re sampling in a small area or don’t want to disturb the vegetation in the sample area, t use this protocol..

  • National Sampling Protocol 2 – Modified Hand-Sorting
    This protocol enables you 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. 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 MonitoringThis protocol allows you 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 WormWatch farm monitoring program. You can use this protocol for any project monitoring earthworm populations and species diversity over some period of time, days, months, or years.If you are monitoring earthworm populations (e.g. in the EMAN forest plots) you should use Protocol 3 – Quantitative Modified Hand-Sorting.

Once you have decided where you will sample and whether or not you will compare sites, you need to decide which protocol to use.