Watch out, Natural Talent Trainee about!

Sue LoughranIt’s only a couple of months since I began my Natural Talent traineeship with the FSC Biodiversity team…but just like when going invertebrate hunting, my perception of time goes awry! The sun just keeps on shining in Shropshire and the rains seems to come mainly whenever I’m camping! The 5am dawn chorus has been my alarm call, and the days are full of wildlife from dawn til dusk.

NPMS habitat guides

Tom.bio has been working with Plantlife and ecologist Nick Law to produce a series of video guides to habitats classified by the national Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS). These films are designed to help NPMS volunteers decide which habitat type their survey plots are in. We have deliberately focussed on those habitats which can be difficult to distinguish from each other, such as dry heath and dry acid grassland.

We recommend you watch each pair of films together as they complement each other and will help you decide between the two similar habitats.

Clubtail Count 2017 - guest blog by Genevieve Dalley

Join the quest for this elusive dragonfly!  The Common Clubtail Dragonfly is a near threatened species restricted to a handful of unpolluted, slow flowing rivers in England and Wales. We desperately need to understand the population size and distribution of this dragonfly to conserve it.  Read more...

The Cladocera Interest Group - guest blog by Adrian Chalkley

Sample of Cladocera.  Photo: A ChalkleyThe Cladocera Interest Group have an entry in the ID Signpost section of the TomBio website, because we supply aids to Water Flea identification. This blog will explain more about identification aids available from the CIG website and a little bit about how the group started. But it's probably best to explain why Water Fleas are unfortunately one of the 'Cinderella taxa' of biological recording, and why they deserve more attention...

Photo Keys and a life spent paddling! Guest blog by Adrian Chalkley

A few of my most useful keys If you can't identify and therefore record what lives in an place then understanding and protecting its biodiversity is impossible.  But ID is much easier for some groups of creatures than others.  High street bookshops stock a plethora of books on birds or wild flowers, but usually only the most general of invertebrate guides. Thus people are often unaware of the number of species in an invert taxa and make mistakes, leading to frustration and giving up...

Ento Day 2016 reviewed

Ento Day 2016Well it's 24 hours since Shropshire Ento Day 2016 began, and I'm still buzzing (pardon the pun)! Couldn't make it? Read our summary of the day here.

Springtail atlas progress 2015 & 2016

Springtail timelineThese visualisations have been created to mark the first year of the Shropshire Springtail Atlas which was launched at the Shropshire Ento Day at Preston Montford in 2015. It presents interactive explorations of the records currently comprise the Shropshire springtail database. In particular it celebrates the contributions of many people who have contributed to Springtail recording in Shropshire. Most people who have contributed to the project do not consider springtails to be their primary recording interest, but there's a feeling amongst Shropshire biological recorders that 'anything is doable' and 'everything is interesting'. The success of the project to date is testimony to this remarkable and growing community of entomologists in Shropshire and the degree to which they work together as part of an extended team.

QGIS tips - building a map background

DordogneI had a query today from someone who wants to use QGIS to show distribution maps of butterflies and moths for the Dordogne region of France. His question was about presenting a detailed background. Sourcing and creating map layers to build good looking backgrounds for distribution maps is probably one of the major hurdles for biological recorders wishing to use GIS to create distribution maps. To help answer his question I had a go at it myself and I thought it worth sharing what I found.

The Shropshire Cranefly Atlas has landed!

N Jones, licensed under Creative CommonsWe're delighted to report that FSC has a new publication - 'Shropshire Craneflies'. As well as being an up-to-date cranefly distribution atlas for Shropshire, it also includes a set of identification keys to the 245 taxa recorded in the county. Read more....

Gamification and Citizen Science

A new guest blog from Ben Deed, manager of Merseyside BioBank - the Local Environmental Record Centre for Merseyside - on gamification and citizen science. The concept of gamification has been around for a while. It is in essence making something enjoyable and 'game-like'. The reason for gamifying an activity could be to increase uptake or extend the use of a service or product by increasing interest, loyalty, enjoyment or otherwise affecting the behaviour or a user. With such a great potential for influencing the behaviour of people and their responses it is perhaps little wonder that gamification has been widely used, though often un-noticed, throughout our society. Gamification will generally include the implementation of a simplegame mechanics such as a straight forward reward based system using simple rules.

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