What soil creatures are living right under our feet? The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) organised the first-ever 'Soil Animal Day', together with the Centre for Soil Ecology (CSE) on October 4, 2015.
How much do you really know about your nearest neighbours? And no, we don't mean the ones living in the house beside you. How much do you know about millipedes, woodlice, springtails and all those other creatures that you share your patch of earth with? Our guess...? Not a lot!
Unknown makes unloved. Yet without soil animals such as these, there would be no clean drinking water, sufficient food or even material to make clothes. Just think: you'll find more living organisms in a single, small handful of soil than there are people on the entire planet!
What better moment to get properly introduced to your neighbours in the soil than worldwide Animal Day, October 4, which - as this is the United Nations' International Year of Soils - we'd like just this once to rebaptise 'Soil Animal Day'!
On this day we asked the participating individuals to go out into your own garden and take a good, long look. At www.bodemdierendag.nl (Dutch only) the participating individuals could fill in the online form to help us learn more about the current state of the soil in Dutch cities and towns.
You can download our special soil animal here (.pdf), to help you make sense of what you see. It features the ten groups of soil dwellers people are most familiar with - from spiders and ants to millipedes and moles.
Looking for something a bit more challenging? If you know your Lumbricus festivus from your Lumbricus terrestris (hint: they're both earthworms), the chart and the online form will also let you identify all the exact species.
The results can be seen here (Dutch only). On this map you can see where people in the Netherlands have completed the form to communicate their observations of soil animals.
Bodemdierenexperts van NIOO, Wageningen UR and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam set the Inquiry Cart.
YouWe Rotterdam has helped in the development of the form and the distribution map.
VARA’s radio show Vroege Vogels (Dutch only) is media partner.