Earthworm Research Group (ERG)

Institute for Engineering and Technology Innovation (InETI)

The Earthworm Research Group (ERG) was established in 2003, but members of the group have been engaged in research of this nature for more than thirty years.

We are one of the key research groups in this area (at a national and international level) and welcome contact with respect to potential collaborative research, consultancy or simply to answer earthworm-related questions.

The ERG was founded by Drs Kevin Butt and Chris Lowe and has worldwide members and associates.


The last 25 years has seen an enormous expansion in earthworm research with the development of potential profit-related applications in vermiculture and organic waste processing. More recently applied research has investigated the role of earthworms in soil restoration, eco-toxicology, environmental monitoring and DNA analysis. Major advances have therefore been made, but despite this many fundamental questions still remain unanswered. There is still scope to undertake investigations into a group of organisms which have profound effects on soils through pedogenesis and maintenance of soil health. Earthworms may be regarded as Ecosystem Service providers.

The ERG has worked extensively with earthworm species from Britain and from numerous locations in northern temperate regions. Research has concentrated on the practical application of earthworms in areas such as soil restoration, organic waste management, bio-monitoring and eco-toxicology. Current overseas projects are linked with Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain and the USA.


The ERG is concerned with more than research and provides educational materials, talks and seminars to schools and non-commercial organisations promoting the role of earthworms (e.g. in organic waste management and fertility of soils) as well as undertaking commercial / consultancy projects. We have been involved with numerous “Bioblitz” events, creation of identification keys and aim to promote earthworms as educational tools.

Dark and Light

The Earthworm Research Group has undertaken a research project with researchers from Finland and the USA. The work ‘Dew-worms in white nights’ was published in 2014 as “Nuutinen, V., Butt, K. R., Jauhiainen, L., Shipitalo, M and Sirén, T. (2014) Dew-worms in white nights: high latitude light condition constrain earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) behaviour. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 72, 66-74.”

Please contact us if you wish to view the research in full.


Natural History Museum, OPAL

In collaboration with David Jones from the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London and OPAL (Open Air Laboratory) an earthworm identification guide has been produced by Chris Lowe (UCLan). This guide has been distributed free to the public in survey packs (n=50,000 packs) along with instructions on how to sample for earthworms. The information from these surveys is being collated by the NHM to enable a picture of earthworm distribution in England to be created.

Contact us:

To find out more please contact Dr Kevin Butt