Kent and Medway Biological Records Centre

In recent years there has been a huge increase in the availability of online recording websites and even apps for smart phones enabling people to search for, identify and then instantly submit their wildlife sightings to national databases and recording schemes. We at KMBRC often get asked by those using such facilities what happens to the data that they submit this way and is there any mechanism in place to ensure that information sent via these websites is getting back to the appropriate local records centres?

 

The answer to this is very much dependent on the online facility being used and the flow of data back to local level from those co-ordinating the national surveys. Often data flow is a multi-stage process which requires a number of organisations to work together to ensure that data recorded in the County ends up at that the Local Records Centre.

 

We in Kent are very fortunate to be able to work closely with many local and national schemes and societies and a good example of effective data flow using online recording is Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count survey. Data can be submitted to the national scheme using a smart phone or tablet app or computer and the website has additional support to help people to identify their sightings. Butterfly Conservation at the national level then feed the data back to their local branches. In Counties such as Kent where the local branch have a data exchange agreement with KMBRC, that nationally collected data is then made available at the local level. This is a fantastic example of people power and the big society ethos at its best. Butterfly Conservation have had great support from the media including television shows such as the One Show and Spring Watch, this has increased the number of participants in the survey and ultimately boosted the number of records available at local level to inform on conservation management, habitat protection and restoration and ensure planning and development is undertaken in the most biodiversity sensitive way.

 

As a records centre we like to actively encourage people from all walks of life to submit records and online recording is just one of the ways in which this can be facilitated. We do of course have to be mindful of the potential for duplication of data. KMBRC has spent a lot of time ensuring that duplication is kept to a minimum. We use a specific duplication removal tool on our own recording database here which helps but we also have data exchange agreements with our local recording groups and members of those groups not only check the accuracy and validity of species submissions but will also keep an eye out for multiples of records that they consider to be duplicates. If it's a species that is normally seen in large numbers it's unlikely to cause any issues but when we get a record of a rare, migrant species that has probably just been blown off course from Central Europe but suddenly starts to crop up on our database multiple times at one site we need to be clear whether this is actually a previously unknown population or the same record sent to us from several different sources. When the record has been maintained at the full resolution of submission this can be very easy to establish but with data coming from a variety of sources who may themselves store that information in different ways we could end up with just a basic grid reference, the species name, a year. This sort of misinformation has the potential to be very costly, either from survey and conservation effort being put into a non-existent population or conversely by destroying a genuine population that had been dismissed as a one off.

 

If, as a wildlife recorder you are unsure of the best mechanism for getting your records to the county and national recorders, groups and societies you can always give KMBRC a ring for a chat but below is a list of both local and national recording groups and schemes for which records submitted directly to those organisations has a clear and established mechanism of ensuring data flow back to KMBRC.

    • Butterfly Conservation (including the Big Butterfly Count Survey)
    • British Trust for Ornithology (including the Garden Bird Survey)
    • Bat Conservation Trust
    • Bees Wasps and Ants Recording Scheme
    • Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
    • Kent Botanical Recording Group
    • Kent Bat Group
    • The Kent Dragonfly Recording Scheme
    • Kent Field Club " Kent Mammal Group
    • Kent Ornithological Society
    • Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group
    • Peoples Trust for Endangered Species (including the National Dormouse Monitoring Scheme)
    • Thanet Costal Project
    • The Countryside Partnerships (Kent)

Many recorders like to focus on a specific species group and it therefore may be that the best way to submit your records online is via one of the targeted national schemes but if you are the sort of person who likes to record anything and everything you may be looking for an online recording option that allows you to enter records from various taxonomic group but also ensures that all the records you collect end up with the local records centre.

There are many multi-taxa recording systems available and the two shown below are just a couple of good examples. Both have a facility which enables data you submit to be fed back to the local records centres and receive verification and validation feedback on individual records from a team of specialist recorders. If you have any queries about these systems or would like help to set up your account and begin submitting records then please contact us.

Living Record is a system which, after creating your personal account, will allow you to enter your records, store them safely and access them in a way that allows you to map them using Google Maps. The system has a range of filters allowing you to produce and download your own species lists and site specific records summaries and view summary distribution maps for records submitted by other users for your area of interest. Your records can be validated by local recorders who in turn pass the validated information on to local records centres and national schemes and societies. This system is particularly good for situations whereby several individuals may want to contribute to a specific recording project as you can set up a project survey into which multiple contributors can set up their own survey specific log ins to submit records.

 

iRecord also allows you to submit your wildlife sightings, either as one off records or as part of a species list for a site or multiple sites. You can also add photos which of course are very helpful if you are looking to receive validation and verification feedback. As with Living Record, you can explore records submitted by other users, find all records for a specific site and all records of a specific species or taxonomic group and download the information (subject to certain terms and conditions of use). The data is shared with local records centres, national recording schemes and county recorders as well as the NBN Gateway so it is important to be sure that you submit your records at a resolution that you are happy making available publicly.