The Biological Records Centre

The Biological Records Centre (BRC; www.brc.ac.uk) is run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Wallingford. The BRC works with the voluntary recording community throughout Britain and Ireland and is the national custodian of data on the distribution of wildlife in the British Isles. The BRC database contains nearly 13 million records of more than 12,000 species. These data are held on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway (www.searchnbn.net). This is searchable by members of the public and shows the distribution of species on a local to national level.

The BRC produces a range of publications including distribution atlases and provisional atlases. Recently, they have expanded the range to include starter packs and books and papers about species attributes. BRC also publishes Red Data Books on the conservation status and distribution of threatened species. Recent research carried out includes using records collected by volunteers to address the question of whether butterfly numbers have declined as steeply as birds or plants over similar time periods. The BRC also holds details on recording schemes and can host their websites.

Recording schemes and societies

Some UK based natural history and conservation organisations, such as Butterfly Conservation, the Bat Conservation Trust, the Woodland Trust, and the RSPB encourage their members to collect and submit biological records, often as part of an organised survey or recording scheme. These organised schemes may be aimed at producing an atlas or collecting enough records to identify trends across the UK. In many cases such schemes are aimed at recorders without a great deal of specialist knowledge.

For the specialist recorder there are many societies that run schemes to collate records on particular species groups. Some schemes involve thousands of people, such as the members of the Botanical Society of the British Isles, whose members collect records of vascular plants. Others are smaller but still involve many people throughout the UK, such as the British Lichen Society, and others for mosses and liverworts, or for particular families of beetles and flies, and other insects such as spiders, harvestmen, woodlice, centipedes and millipedes. Contact details of these schemes and societies are held by the Biological Records Centre, see http://www.brc.ac.uk/recording_schemes.asp

Some recording schemes are local, such as the BRISC Wildlife Counts Project in central Scotland which ran from 2005-2007 (now continuing under the auspices of BTCV), but feed their data into larger, national schemes.

Local groups

There are many local groups and branches or organisations and societies that are involved in biological recording.

Local Records Centres

Local Records Centres (LRCs) provide a unique and invaluable role in supporting biological recording, in making sure that records are checked, and in sharing data on wildlife with local users and UK bodies. Unfortunately they do not yet cover the whole of Scotland so if you are lucky enough to live or record in an area with an LRC then do get in touch and submit your records, even if you also send them to another organisation as well. Details of Scotland's LRCs are available at on the BRISC website (Record Sources).