After what feels like ages (actually, 5 months is quite a long time!) I have finished my fieldwork, hurrah! I sampled soil and leaf-litter invertebrates, and microbes, in total of 38 sites in 6 different land-use types (deciduous forest, coniferous forest, heathland, pasture, cropland and urban areas) with the aim to compare how species differ between them.
The majority of invertebrates hibernate during the winter, since they do not produce their own body heat like mammals and birds it is too cold for them to be active. However, 10cm under the ground the soil is often a few degrees warmer than the air and many soil animals are still active, including earthworm, so I am still busy out in the cold and rain digging them up for my PhD research – I recently found 16 earthworms from a 20 cm x 20 cm soil pit at a farm where the soil temperature was 4°C!
When temperatures fall below 0°C and water in the soil freezes many earthworms simply burrow into deeper layers where they can survive but earthworms which live on the surface instead rely on chemical defences to tolerate cold temperatures.
For the last couple of months I have been doing fieldwork in the New Forest – a National Park in my home county of Hampshire. The New Forest was previously sampled by the Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group during the New Forest Qualitative Inventory in 2010 and I have been revisiting some of the sites and also new ones. The aim of my sampling is to collect soil and leaf litter invertebrates, and soil cores for microbial analysis in six different land uses which correspond to those used in the PREDICTS project: mature secondary vegetation, immature secondary vegetation (heathland), plantation forest, grassland, cropland and urban areas.
Today I look back at my volunteer work sorting leaf litter samples with the Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group.
This week’s #throwbackthursday looks back at fieldwork as part of the Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group NVC project.
This week’s Throwback Thursday looks back at the Earthworm Society of Britain field trip to Richmond Park in 2014.
This week’s #throwbackthursday chronicles the final part of field work on the NERC BESS earthworm project in 2013 – hard to believe two years have past since we finished!
Two years ago I was volunteering on yet another week of earthworm sampling on the NERC BESS project, this time in Leicestershire and Dorset. This week features farty mustard solution and an exciting day in an active quarry!
Another county, another field… Last Monday and Tuesday I was again away with the Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group, this time heading up to Leicestershire, for more earthworm sampling. Not as scenic as Somerset, we were sampling in a research farm near Loddington, in addition to myself, Sholto was again volunteering, I also met for the first time Salma and we were joined by Irfaan on Tuesday.
Over one year into my PhD now, and I had been hoping to blog a little reflection on this but things have been rather hectic! Instead here is a look back to some more earthworm fieldwork I volunteered on in November 2013, digging holes in Somerset and Berkshire.
For eight days in November I returned for more earthworm survey work with the Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group, this time in Somerset and Berkshire. A small team of volunteers this time, just myself and long-time SBG volunteer Irfaan, travelled first to the Somerset site to continue work started the previous week.
Just in time for UK Fungus Day this week’s #throwbackthursday looks back at a training course on the identification of fungi I attended in October 2013.