Invasive species alert

Our Year 7 students were joined by Nicola Morris and Elaine Roll from Cornwall College Newquay on 26th March for research into invasive species on the school campus.

Following Nicola’s team’s research on Alpine Newts in a previous visit by SINNG during February (click here), today’s task was to locate New Zealand Flatworms.

Nicola and Elaine from Cornwall College Newquay

This species of worm attacks the native UK Earthworm, disabling it with a toxic anesthetic before eating it. Earthworms are important in agriculture as they improve soil quality. They are also a crucial part of the food chain in a delicate ecosystem.

Following an examination of the Flatworm invaders under a microscope, our Year 7 students headed out to our school grounds armed with petri dishes and plastic tweezers to see if they could locate any samples. They found three Flatworms in woodland under rocks.

“The most important thing when you find an invasive species is not to capture it,” explained Nicola. “This is because it is illegal to release an invasive species into the wild, so you cannot then put it back. What you need to do is take a picture, check with your parents, and contact SINNG for newts or Elaine for worms. Take a photo if you can, then we can send a team around and explore further.”

Invasive species cost the UK taxpayer £1.7 billion annually and these research projects enable the team at Cornwall College Newquay to see how far an invasive species has spread. As some carry disease, containment is essential. There are various methods by which the team can do this, involving trapping and relocating the invaders and, in the process, creating a natural barrier.

If you would like to get involved in this research, contact SINNG for newts by clicking here or if you find a New Zealand Flatworm, email Elaine directly on elaine.roll@cornwall.ac.uk

Mr Barrett also has lots more information.

Looking for Flatworms