19th December 2022
Spare a thought for the humble earthworm. According to a report in the Guardian, ‘Populations of earthworms in the UK may have fallen by about a third in the past 25 years, an assessment has shown.… “It would have widespread impacts on the species that feed on soil invertebrates, like birds, but also affect soil processing and nutrient cycling, the whole functioning of our ecosystems,” he [Prof James Pearce-Higgins] said. “Thrushes, starlings and many waders that rely on soil invertebrates are in long-term decline. These declines are greatest in south-east England where hotter, drier summers may also reduce the availability of earthworms to foraging birds.”
Dr Ailidh Barnes, also at the BTO, said there were good reasons to expect declines in earthworms on farmland. “Changes in the UK countryside over the last century, such as extensive drainage, pesticide use and inorganic fertiliser application, are likely to have negatively affected earthworm populations.” Repeated ploughing was also likely to cause harm.”
There are 29 different species of earth worms in the UK.