What’s Under Your Feet? Norfolk-based British Trust for Ornithology’s scientific project to learn more about creatures in the ground

Big Dig at Thetford Grammar. Photo: Sue Roochove.

Big Dig at Thetford Grammar. Photo: Sue Roochove. - Credit: Sue Roochove.

Schoolchildren are to be given the chance to take part in a major scientific project run by a Norfolk-based charity to discover more information about creatures in the ground.

Big Dig at Thetford Grammar. Photo: Sue Roochove.

Big Dig at Thetford Grammar. Photo: Sue Roochove. - Credit: Sue Roochove.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), based in Thetford, is recruiting youngsters across the country to dig 30cm x 30cm test pits in their school fields to unearth more about tiny animals that live on and beneath the ground.

The project, called What's Under Your Feet?, is designed to help scientists at the BTO discover how important the small creatures are to birds that land and nest on the ground.

The young people are encouraged to record every tiny creature they find.

Dr James Pearce-Higgins, director of science at the BTO, said: 'The children taking part in this research provide a unique opportunity to collect the largest dataset of soil invertebrates anyone has ever seen, which scientists at the BTO will then be able to use to determine the role, if any, these animals have in the declines of many of our birds.

Big Dig at Thetford Grammar. Photo: Sue Roochove.

Big Dig at Thetford Grammar. Photo: Sue Roochove. - Credit: Sue Roochove.


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'We know that many of our birds feed on the invertebrates that live in our soil.

'What we don't know is how dense the populations of these soil-living animals are in different parts of the country, or how they might respond to climate change.

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'It is really important we get a handle on this. Even though they are small, they underpin the lives of many larger animals.

'Thanks to the army of schoolchildren taking part, it looks like we might be able to do just this.

'The success of the project hinges on schools taking part and submitting their data to the BTO, take part submit your data and make a difference.'

Pupils at Thetford Grammar School have already taken part in the project.

What's Under Your Feet? is a partnership between the BTO and EDF Energy.

They aim to get 15,000 schoolchildren taking part in biological monitoring during the next two years.

The results of what they find will be written up and published in scientific papers.

For more information and resources for schools, visit jointhepod.org

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