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eNews August 2020

Important: MapMate & Atlas 2020

Would all MapMate users please download and apply the two recent most patches that MapMate have issued, referred to in the recent MapMate Alerts! 141 and Alerts! 142 emails (patches 523 - Vascular Plants, and 524 - Important Revisions for all users, respectively), following the instructions given in the newsletters carefully. It is important that everyone follows the View > My Configuration procedure after synch'ing these patches. I recommend ticking both Optimise my Species Checklist and Include synonyms boxes in the final window:

The first patch corrects an issue which has prevented Zostera (Eelgrass) records being entered, mapped and synch'ed correctly and so is very important for Atlas 2020. Once applied you should be able to enter any backlog of Zostera records that has built up since 2018 when the issue first arose.

Finally, and most importantly, would all County Recorders who use MapMate please reset their synch record and synch the entire VC dataset to the Database (DDb).  If you are a County Recorder and receive MapMate syncs from contributors, could you ask those contributors to also follow the above instructions, before synch'ing to you, and before you in turn synch to the DDb.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

MapMate and Windows XP/Windows 7

If anyone is still running a PC with one of these old operating systems (which we wouldn’t recommend) and using an old version of Internet Explorer, you might experience problems with the MapMate replicator.  If so, please read the first article in MapMate Alerts! 142 and follow its advice.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

MapMate Alerts! & Renewals

By the way, if you don’t receive MapMate Alerts! newsletters automatically then we recommend that you logon to MapMate, click My Account in the top right and then tick the box saying “Tick if you wish to receive our newsletter”.  While you are there, you may notice that your subscription is due to expire at the end of August. Don’t worry - it will be renewed automatically by the BSBI on your behalf.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Atlas 2020 Progress

I thought it was worth writing a quick update on Atlas progress, to let you know how it’s all going, and also to thank County Recorders for your continued efforts with regard to validation.

We, as a whole, are making great progress with ‘cleaning’ the maps to make them as accurate as possible prior to analyses and publication.  Over 1,000 native species maps have been checked to date, and we hope to finish the first round of checking by November, with data then made available to UKCEH for analyses. That means that you still have time to validate, or make edits to, records for your county. I know the communication with regard to deadlines has been a bit iffy, and many of you may have thought that the deadline for validation of your county data had passed. My apologies if there have been crossed wires, but please be assured that your input is still very welcome and valuable.

Progress with the Atlas website is going very well, and we’ve had several online meetings between staff at BSBI, BRC and UKCEH, resulting in considerable progress with regard to structure and design. Captions are currently being updated, thanks to the sterling efforts of many volunteers, and we hope to have first drafts for the majority of captions completed by the winter. There will be several iterations, and this will comprise the main Atlas work for us in 20201. That’s it in a nutshell!

Pete Stroh, BSBI Scientific Officer & England Officer

Message Board for County Recorders & Referees

I mentioned the message board last month for BSBI County Recorders and Referees. It is one of six topics set up on the message board. Four relate to the DDb and one to Atlas captions and so have quite a narrow and specific range, but the BSBI County Recorders and Referees topic is a general discussion forum for all County Recorders and taxon Referees.  Login to the DDb first, then click Message Board in the top right then click on County Recorders and Referees and take a look, clicking any message topic of interest and feel free to respond or to post on a completely different topic of interest to you and fellow recorders and referees!  To go back to the index, click the index link in the top left. Only those with a DDb registration can view and post on the forum.

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Field Meetings

Although BSBI field meetings are not taking place at the moment there is still plenty of botanical activity on the part of individuals. With my County Recorder hat on, I've had lots of contributions from local botanists and visited unrecorded parts of my county - there are some, despite all the Atlas 2020 work! Sometimes these visits or reports suggest locations that might be suitable for a future field meeting. It is therefore a good time to start considering where you might hold field meetings next year, in the hope that the local coronavirus guidance will allow them to take place. Some of you have already done so, for example I have the text describing the Caerdeon meeting - thanks Sally. When you finalise details please send them to your country Field Meetings Secretary, with a copy to me if possible. That will allow me to spot any possible clashes of date well in advance.

If there are any belated reports of field meetings from 2019 that didn't appear in the 2020 Yearbook, they could be published in the 2021 edition. Otherwise it is likely to be slim on meeting reports, with only one contribution to date - I held a solo meeting on 25th April!

Jonathan Shanklin, BSBI Hon Field Meeting Secretary

Annual Exhibition Meeting & Scottish Botanists’ Conference

Sadly, this year’s field meetings have had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 but both the Annual Exhibition Meeting and the Scottish Botanists’ Conference will still go ahead later this year, albeit as virtual rather than physical events.  Keep an eye on the webpages for further details of both events.

Louise Marsh, Communications Officer

Irish Grasslands Project

This project has continued to be very popular, with nearly 500 different people involved with our online training webinars so far! The last webinar of the series is coming up on Saturday, 8th August, and is an Introduction to Annex I Grasslands Habitats. If you’d like to join, you are very welcome, and can still register on the project web page. Recordings of the previous webinars and copies of the presentations are also available on that page. Huge thanks also to everyone who contributed photos for use in the Annex I grassland species resources we’re creating. These should be available on the project web page later in September. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook and would like to keep up with what’s happening in the project, just search the hashtags #IrishGrasslandsProject and #IrishGrassOfTheWeek.

Sarah Pierce, Ireland Officer

Botanical Recording for Beginners

Clare Heardman (West Cork County Recorder) and I are working on a webinar to introduce botanical recording to beginners as part of the Ellen Hutchins Festival. It’s due to take place at 10am on Saturday, 15th August and is open to anyone with an interest in recording. Please spread the word to anyone you think may be interested. Registration is now open and details will be posted on the BSBI Ireland webpage shortly.

Sarah Pierce, Ireland Officer

National research project

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the British Science Association have asked BSBI botanists based in Britain to take part in a citizen science research project they are running with Derby University. Participants are asked to take part in various nature-based activities, each lasting 10-15 minutes, across a week, and then to answer a few questions about their experiences. The aim is to discover more about how our well-being is affected by noticing and connecting with nature. To find out more and to take part, please visit ‘Nature up close and personal’.

Louise Marsh, Communications Officer

Send me your sedge utricles please!

I’m an MRes (Masters by Research) student at Edge Hill University. Covid-19 has thrown my research plans into chaos but I’m hoping that BSBI eNews readers can help. For my dissertation I need samples from across the UK of Carex utricles (5-10 utricles per plant, 3 plants if possible, any species). More info here or please email me if you can help.

Lorna Halliwell

Lactuca serrriola

Mature seeds (achenes) of the two forms of Lactuca serrriola (Prickly Lettuce)are wanted to look at any differences. The two forms are f. serriola with runcinate-pinnatifid leaves and f. integrifolia with entire leaves.  Preferably, send a photo of the plant (or a leaf with the achenes) to show the leaf type and put each gathering of seeds in a small folded piece of paper for each plant. The former is becoming increasingly more frequent in places. Please send to Mike Wilcox at 43 Roundwood Glen, Greengates, Bradford BD10 0HW, email

Discounts on botany books – for BSBI members only

Yale University Press has published The Multifarious Mr. Banks: From Botany Bay to Kew, The Natural Historian Who Shaped the World about Sir Joseph Banks and a 30% discount is offered to any BSBI members buying a copy. More info here about the book and how to claim your discount if you are a BSBI member.

September sees the publication by Princeton University Press/WildGuides of the long-awaited and much anticipated Britain’s Orchids by BSBI members Sean Cole and Mike Waller. You’ll be seeing a lot more about this book on the BSBI website in the coming weeks but a quick heads-up for now that BSBI members will also be able to claim a 30% discount on this title.

Louise Marsh, Communications Officer

On the BSBI News & Views blog in July

In the latest of a series of blogposts from BSBI President Lynne Farrell, we reported on some of Lynne’s interesting finds (both botanical and entomological) in her local area; we told you how the Royal Society is commemorating C17th botanist and apothecary James Petiver; we told you about the ‘Nature Up Close and Personal’ project and the new book about Sir Joseph Banks, and shared some background about Lorna Halliwell and her request for sedge utricles (see above); and July’s Wildflower of the Month, chosen by BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker, was Sulphur Clover.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

New on the BSBI website in July

  • The BSBI YouTube channel has been updated: as well as videos of the latest grass and sedge ID webinars, there are new additions to the plant ID: short videos and Irish botany
  • We’ve also added some more links and resources on the Irish Grasslands Project page and on the Grass ID page.
  • A date for your diaries: although this year’s Glynhir recording week in Carmarthenshire has had to be cancelled, we now have a tentative booking for next year’s event. It’s scheduled for 19th-26th July 2021, so save the date now and watch out for more details, which will be posted here nearer the time.
  • County pages for Ayrshire and North Ebudes have been updated to include reports on interesting plant finds, new Rare Plant Registers and any other resources for local botanists. Links to all county pages and updated contact details for County Recorders are available via the Local Botany page.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer