UK schoolchildren unearth interesting results in survey

Worms, woodlice, spiders, beetles, ants and earwigs are all more abundant near shrubs or trees than they are in open soil, according to the results of  the 'What's Under Your Feet' project.

Worms, woodlice, spiders, beetles, ants and earwigs are all more abundant near shrubs or trees than they are in open soil, according to the results of the 'What's Under Your Feet' project.

Since last summer 1606 schools across the UK have taken part in a survey to find out what is living under their feet, and how this affects the birds that depend on the wildlife that lives in our soil.

So far, around 40,000 schoolchildren have taken part in the ‘What’s Under Your Feet’ project to help find out, what is living right under their feet, and how it is distributed across the country in the differing soils.

The schoolchildren were asked to sample a 300mm x 300mm square of soil on their playing fields, and rather surprisingly, it seems that the length of time since any rain had fallen had a large impact on the results.

More invertebrates were found in the soil the longer it had been since there was any rainfall. This might mean that the floods experienced this winter in northern Britain could have far reaching implications for those animals that rely on soil invertebrates.

Further investigation is needed and it will be interesting to see the results from those schools whose playing fields have experienced flooding.

Early indications also show that there are often more soil invertebrates close to trees and shrubs. Worms, woodlice, spiders, beetles, ants and earwigs are all more abundant near shrubs or trees than they are in open soil.

Blaise Martay, lead scientist on the project said: “The next step in the survey will be to try and find out what types of invertebrates different bird species like. Thanks again to everyone who is helping us and don’t forget to take part this year and let us know what you find, it might just be brand new to science.”