Soil biodiversity project

Timber Copse and Greatmead Copse was the study site for the project part of my MSc Taxonomy and Biodiversity course, working within the Natural History Museum Soil Biodiversity Group and supervised by Dr Paul Eggleton. The Soil Biodiversity Group is interested in patterns of invertebrate diversity in soils across the world and their roles in soil processes. Previous work by the Soil Biodiversity Group in woodlands in the United Kingdom has sampled from the main woodland habitats, my project surveyed Timber Copse and Greatmead Copse in greater depth to see how much additional variation is added by including microhabitats and identify what may be missed in a standard survey.


  • Survey site for ground level microhabitats ignored by a standard survey
  • Stratify soil and litter sampling across microhabitats
  • Sample soil fauna by hand searching from soil pits and extraction of sieved litter samples using Winkler bags
  • Count and identify the following taxonomic groups from the samples: earthworms, centipedes, millipedes, woodlice, beetles, harvestmen, ants and beetles
  • Use multivariate statistics and ordination techniques to analyse differences in microhabitat species compositions and to identify how much additional variation is added by including microhabitats compared to a standard survey

Supplementary aims:

  • Add to inventory of species for the site and national recording schemes (if applicable)
  • Establish baseline of soil biodiversity for monitoring during planned woodland management
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith