Recording a Species
Recording the whereabouts and population strength of any species is vitally important. The data gathered allows scientists to measure the growth, or decline, of a population, its distribution, and potentially a whole host of external factors that drive the success of those populations.
The key element of species recording, is that from location to location, the work is predominantly delivered by teams of volunteers, whether they be naturalists, ecologists, photographers, students or people from many other walks of life. The data gathered is usually cleansed and administered locally (within region or vice-county), and then fed up the chain where it ends up in both National and International databases that can be access and shared across the world.
Anyone can submit a species record or sighting, however, there are a few essential pieces of information it is necessary to provide…usually summed up as When, Where and What:
- When – Make a note of the date on which you observed the specimen
- Where – If the site has a name then provide this, usually along with a grid reference number (a six digit grid reference indicating a 100 square metre plot is fairly standard)
- What – A common name, and scientific name if known, for the species observed. Photos can also be a massive aid to identification, and a selection from different angles should be taken if at all possible
In addition to these pieces of information, it is also useful to record the following:
- Abundance – How many individuals of the species did you observe
- Identified By – As the species observer, it is useful to have the right point of contact for any queries coming from the record
- Confidence – How sure are you that the specimen recorded is the species you believe it to be. Good quality photographs will really help here
If you don’t know who to pass on the information to, once you have recorded the above, then try Googling for your local recorder information e.g. A Google search for ‘Leicestershire species recorder’ returns links to the correct points of contact at the local council, as well as the Naturespot website dealing with records for Leicestershire and Rutland (VC55)
More nationally targetted recording schemes can be found here on the Biological Records Centre website
And here is an example of one of my own records, submitted to the Naturespot website – Species Record – Pamphilius betulae