invertebrate recording schemes – call for atlas records

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Three national recording schemes are currently collating records for their forthcoming national atlases, and have deadlines fast approaching. I managed to get myself sufficiently organised today to send off my records, so am feeling smug, and if anyone else has data to contribute I’m sure it would be very welcome.

  • Ladybird recording scheme: atlas due for publication in 2010, records accepted up until “spring 2009” (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) – if you can recognise a Seven-spot Ladybird you can contribute to this!
  • The Larger Brachycera recording scheme covers several families of Diptera (flies), including soldier-flies, horse-flies, bees-flies and a few others. Records needed “as soon as possible”.
  • The Centipede (Chilopoda) recording scheme also has an atlas in the pipeline – not sure of the timescale, but again all records are requested. Centipedes are not the easiest creatures to identify, but there is a very good recent Field Studies Council key to them, by recording scheme organiser Tony Barber.
Geophilus carpophagus

analysing county moth datasets

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County moth datasets tend to be large and ‘messy’ affairs – messy in the sense that they are large aggregations of data from a variety of sources, collected using a variety of methods. Some people will run a mercury vapour trap all night long in their garden, several times a week; others will run an occasional actinic trap for a few hours on a nature reserve; others will just send in a few sightings of moths they’ve found by day. Is it possible to draw any overall conclusions about which moths are increasing or decreasing from this mass/mess of data?

In an attempt to look at this for the Berkshire moth database, I’ve set up some user queries for use in MapMate that compare numbers of records and of individuals of particular species against total numbers for the year. Full details and a download of the queries are here on my kitenet website. Here are the resulting graphs for Mottled Rustic, currently doing very poorly in Berkshire:

moths on the web – news update

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Positioned somewhere on the sublime–ridiculous scale …

Not being too familiar with Killer Moth I consulted this review, “What is there to say about Killer Moth? He’s probably second only to Kite-Man as Batman’s goofiest foe … Killer Moth is a fairly standard figure, but his wings push his rating up a little higher.”

Ask your MP to support Butterfly Conservation

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Butterfly Conservation are asking for help to ensure all MPs are aware of an Early Day Motion highlighting butterfly declines:

Members of Parliament have registered their alarm at the decline in butterfly numbers and said a big thank you to all the volunteers who participate in UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.

More than 50 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion tabled by the MP Bob Russell, who represents Colchester and is a long-time Butterfly Conservation member.

It states that:

“This House registers its deep concern at the decline in the butterfly population, with numbers reported by the charity Butterfly Conservation to be at their lowest for 25 years, with the small tortoiseshell showing the biggest decline of 81 per cent; congratulates the thousands of volunteers who each year provide information for the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme operated by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology; welcomes the comments of Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, who is promoting an appeal to raise funds for the charity’s Stop Extinction Appeal; and calls on the Government to promote cross-departmental policies to assist in safeguarding Britain’s butterflies”

If you think this EDM should be supported, please check Early Day Motion 8 to see if your MP has signed, and if they haven’t ask them to do so.

A sample letter to MPs can be found via Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation

Find out who your MP is here

New key to plants

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The long-awaited new “Vegetative Key to the British Flora” (by John Poland and Eric Clement) is nearing completion. BSBI are now advertising a pre-publication offer: if you order before the 17th April it will cost £20 inclusive, whereafter it will cost £25 plus p&p.

You can download a flyer for the book from the BSBI website (see the top-right-hand corner of the site).

The authors claim that (with experience) you’ll be able to identify most plants within 60 seconds! (personally I’d be happy if I could get somewhere near identifying most plants within 60 hours …)

revised MapMate user queries

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Ages ago I circulated a set of MapMate user queries to extend the standard “Browse all records” query with extra details, including determiner, national status for rare species, some higher taxon classifications, etc.

I was recently asked to revise these queries, updating and slightly extending them. The revised versions can be downloaded here.

(see the fourth bullet point “SQL text (.txt file) for custom User Queries to browse records with additional details”)