BSBI's Recorder eNewsletter is a monthly email newsletter full of useful info, links and topical tips for botanical recorders.

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Recorder eNewsletter May 2022

New recording and data entry app

Tom Humphrey has been working on a prototype of the BSBI new data entry and recording app which we hope to launch in time for the 2023 field season. The new software is designed to work on mobile phones, tablets and PCs, both on- and off-line. It is primarily a recording app and so will provide a fast, efficient way of collecting records in the field, either individually as ad hoc records or as part of grid- or site-based recording. There will be options to record additional information such as habitats, abundance, record-level status, etc. as well as upload photos.

The app is still being developed under the guidance of a small working group who met recently to see a demo of the app. The group will carry out some initial testing later this month, before we begin testing with a wider group of recorders, starting in June. We are looking for volunteer recorders who might be happy to test the app, reporting bugs and making suggestions for improvements. If you would be interesting in taking part, please fill in this short form.

Kevin Walker, BSBI Head of Science

National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS)

The NPMS report for 2021 has just been published and makes inspiring reading! More than 187,000 records have now been submitted to the Scheme, in which BSBI is a partner, by 1,682 volunteers who have taken on a square to monitor. The report also lists 2021’s most frequently recorded taxa, summarises what happened at the first ever NPMS field Quality Assurance event, to which BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker contributed, and outlines some next steps, including the NPMS+ pilot project and how NPMS data are being analysed to learn more about UK habitat exposure to climate change. Read the report here and then why not visit the NPMS website to find out more about the Scheme and see if there is a NPMS square available near you?

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

Country Projects

If you have not already done so, take a look at the Country project pages and get involved: -

  • The LOst Rarities in England (LORE) project aims to search for and record any species (common or rare) not seen in a hectad for over 20 years.
  • The Rare Plant Project Ireland (RPPI) aims to search for and record Irish Red List species populations that have not been recorded since 2000, and
  • the Scottish HectAd Rare Plant project (SHARP) aims to search for and record notable species populations in hectads where they have not been recorded since 2000, focussing on particular hectads with clusters, and aiming to visit at least one hectad in each county in each year.

It would be great if local members and groups would help - but it is essential that they liaise with County Recorders first. And if County Recorders involve local members they can target more species populations - and provide some interesting identification and recording learning opportunities!

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Notable Species lists

The BSBI Database (DDb) has a great feature which is very useful for obtaining lists of notable native species in particular sites or grid squares. So, if you are looking for a list of all GB Red Data List, National Status and Rare Plant Register taxa for a particular site or grid square you can use a DDb query like this that uses the “conservation status summary” attribute under “more options” to search for notable species in a SSSI. You can either tick each in turn and select the particular sub-category, like VU or EN for Vulnerable or Endangered in the GB Red Data List, or LR or LS for Locally Rare or Locally Scarce in the Rare Plant Register for Midlothian (in this example) that you are interested in or just search for all categories simultaneously. Have a play with it for one of your local SSSIs!

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

Aquatic Plant Project Field Days

The first two field days of the BSBI Aquatic Plant Project 2022 programme will be held in Counties Louth and Meath later this month with aquatic plants expert Nick Stewart and County Recorders. Both days aim to improve identification skills and gather records in a range of aquatic habitats.

On Saturday 28th, Nick and Cliona Byrne will lead a meeting in Louth on the Rivers Dee and Glyde, and possibly visit some coastal sand dune pools, if they still hold water!  On Sunday 29th, Nick and Margaret Norton will lead a meeting in Co. Meath, on the River Boyne and the Boyne Canal.

Everyone is welcome to either or both of these days.  Thanks to the generous funding from the Irish National Parks & Wildlife Service the events are free. For more information and booking use these links for Saturday 28th in Louth and Sunday 29th in Meath.

Paul Green, BSBI Ireland Officer

Annual Summer Meeting

After a two-year gap, the BSBI Annual Summer Meeting is back! We’ll be returning to FSC Malham Tarn from 15th to 18th July. There will be a local walk on the Friday afternoon, with excursions to interesting sites (a mix of LORE hunts, under-recorded monads and nice sites) over the weekend.

You can either opt for the £200 all-in package, which includes all accommodation and meals, or just pay the £35 registration fee and arrange your own accommodation and meals. Full details are on the BSBI Annual Summer Meeting page, where you can book and make payment. Everyone is welcome, whatever your botanical skill level – you don’t even need to be a BSBI member.

Jonathan Shanklin, BSBI Hon. Field Meeting Secretary

Field Meetings

Do periodically check the Field meetings and indoor events 2022 page for updates and amendments to the field meetings that appeared in the Yearbook. In addition to the Annual Summer Meeting, there are new details for the Rubus study week and a new meeting on Zostera in September 10. BSBI meetings are open to all and are an excellent way to see and learn about plants and recording.

Jonathan Shanklin, BSBI Hon. Field Meeting Secretary

Spring Conferences

We had great turn-outs at the BSBI Spring Conference in March and the Irish Spring Conference a week later in early April for some great talks. Amongst the most popular were on rare arable plants by Dr Lizzie Cooke, the fenland flora by Owen Mountford, peatland conservation in Ireland by Mark McCorry and on how Strawberry-tree might have come to Ireland by Micheline Sheehy Skeffington. There were also two very popular training sessions - on separating the Whitlow-grasses by the BSBI Ireland Officer, Paul Green and another on identifying non-native alders by Daniel Buckley.

All the talks were recorded and the playlists are available by clicking the above links. Take a look!

Jim McIntosh, BSBI Senior Country Officer

More than ever on offer for BSBI members

We have revamped the password-protected members’ area on the BSBI website and our members can now: enjoy easy access to all the papers published in New Journal of Botany from 2011 to 2017; save £6 when they pre-order a copy of Clive Stace’s Concise Flora of the British Isles; download a free pdf of the BSBI Handbook on Whitebeams, Rowans and Service-Trees of Britain and Ireland (the book has long been out of print); see the latest notices for members, e.g. about members’ access to the BSBI Distribution Database; find out about the BSBI Archive; and read the latest issue of BSBI News on a Screen Reader as well as in pdf form. There are even more improvements in the pipeline so watch this space! Email me if you are a member but have forgotten your password.

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

BSBI News: plant ID resources and the new botanical heatmaps

The latest issue of BSBI's members-only newsletter features ID resources for buckler-ferns, elms and roses (both native and alien) as well as news of Alpine Clubmoss refound on the North York Moors after three decades. There is also an article by BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker et al. about the new botanical heatmaps we are developing in partnership with Natural England, the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission.

We have made Kevin's article available free of charge to the wider public, and there is also a sampler of the latest issue for non-members. If you are already one of our c3,400 members, why not circulate the free article and/ or the sampler to local group members and any friends or colleagues who might be interested in joining BSBI, to give them an idea of the work we do and the benefits of membership?

Louise Marsh, BSBI Communications Officer

Field Botanist required: Darwin Tree of Life

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh are looking for a field botanist to make plant collections around Scotland for the Darwin Tree of Life project. They’d need to be good with plant ID, independent, and willing to follow a sampling protocol (including flash freezing samples, and preparing herbarium specimens). This would best suit someone with a driving license, living near Edinburgh so they can deposit material at RBGE. This would be a paid short-term contract over the summer months (minimum commitment 6 weeks). If you are interested, please get in touch and send your botanical CV to me.

Alex Twyford, Lecturer in Botany, University of Edinburgh

Field Botanists required: Postglacial Gene Flow between British Native Flowering Plants

We are looking for botanists to sample native species to help with a PhD research project at the RBGE. This will involve simple surveys at sites chosen by contributors around Scotland, Wales, the south and south-west of England, collecting leaf samples into silica, and taking photographic vouchers. There are 17 target species from eight genera, including Viola, Primula, Geum, Veronica, Carduus, Linaria, Verbascum, and Epilobium. Sample packages will be posted to contributors, with return postage included. If you are interested, please get in touch with me, Meng Lu, to discuss what’s involved.

Meng Lu, PhD student, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh