Worldwide, soils are in a poor state, through erosion, compaction and the loss of organic carbon, and so it is essential that we manage them in order to maintain the productivity of agricultural land. As discovered by Darwin in the 1800s, earthworms are extremely beneficial to soil, for example, they improve aeration and water penetration, make organic material and minerals available to the lower levels, and so they are clearly essential for future soil security in the face of climate change. Despite their importance, little is known of the distribution and requirements of these important animals, particularly on farmland. Much greater insight into the mobility, habitat preferences, population structure, adaptation and health status of earthworms in different environments is needed.
This project will use a combination of field sampling and behavioural, physiological and molecular genetic work to determine whether earthworms prefer specific habitats, the extent to which they move and their health status in different environments.
Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you will get access to training opportunities of the Science Graduate School designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You will be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sgs to learn more.