Great Lakes Worm Watch Studies
This section provides a brief introduction to three types of studies we recommend for contributing usable distributional data for the Great lakes Worm Watch project. Here we outline some of the fundamental differences and similarities between the three study types as well as a series of quick links to data sheets, protocols, equipment lists, etc.
Document and occurrence
- This is the most basic level of study, it simply requires you to look for earthworms in a particular site and then inform the Great Lakes Worm Watch whether earthworms are present or absent in your site.
- This basic “qualitative” distributional data is valuable fro general purposes and can potentially indicate sites that might be good candidates for more detailed studies in the future.
- “Document an occurrence” allows you to use a variety of earthworm sampling methods and does not require you to send us preserved earthworms, although we will gladly accept any specimens you send and will identify them for you!
Single plot studies
- This involves the collection of earthworms inside a single fixed size sample plot (33cm x 33cm) using the liquid mustard extraction method. You must then preserve these earthworms and sent them to the Great Lakes Worm Watch, where we identify the species for you!
- Using a single plot study provides not only presence vs. absence of earthworms in your site but also generates a species list and the abundance of each species (i.e. number and biomass of each species). This type of “quantitative data” opens up opportunities for analyzing your data over time and among different sites. For example, using basic statistical tools found in MS Excel.
- Plot sampling using liquid mustard extraction and preservation of earthworms requires that you prepare some supplies and equipment ahead of time.
Download a list of materials you will need to conduct earthworm surveys and hints on where to get them
Multiple plot studies
- Multiple plot studies are very similar to single plot studies but require the collection of earthworms from more than one plot, generally covering a larger area of your site. As always, when you send us your preserved earthworms in labeled vials we will identify the species for you!
- The “quantitative data” collected using multiple plots provide a more complete and accurate average for your study site and can give you insight into any spatial variation that may exist in your site (i.e. patchy distribution of certain species, invasion fronts, etc.).
- Multiple plot sampling using liquid mustard extraction and preservation of earthworms requires the same supplies and equipment as the single plot study.
Download a list of materials you will need to conduct earthworm surveys and hints on where to get them.