Tales From The Trap - January 2013 Week 4


Last week I discussed what should be recorded when recording moths. This week I’ll briefly look at what methods can be used to get your records into your computer and ultimately into the National Moth Recording Scheme. Basically, there are three main options: your favourite spreadsheet, a purpose-built database and online recording. 

Most people I suspect are familiar with the concept of spreadsheets; this is the easiest way of storing your moth records. There are two main ways of achieving this: a One-Record-Per-Row (ORPR) table or a summary table. Both formats have their advantages and disadvantages. An ORPR table is ideal for casual recording all life stages over multiple sites using different recording methods, while a summary table is ideal for single life stage, single site, single method recording, for example, a garden moth trap. With an ORPR table, all of the record attribute headings are across the top of the spreadsheet and each subsequent row of the spreadsheet comprises a single moth record. The summary table is different in having a pre-defined species list down the first column, recording dates across the top row and a quantity figure where the rows and columns converge for a given species and date. It is also important with a summary table to record your name, site & grid reference, recording method and other required attributes separately on another worksheet.

There are two main players in the desktop biological recording software market, namely, MapMate (http://www.mapmate.co.uk/) and Recorder 6 (http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-4592). MapMate is the most popular with moth recorders while Recorder 6 is aimed mostly at high-end recorders e.g. Local Records Centres and National Recording Schemes; however, a number of moth recorders do use Recorder 6.

There are other biological recording applications listed on the National Federation of Biological Recording website (http://www.nfbr.org.uk/) not described here. It should also be mentioned that biological recording applications for Apple iOS and Android smartphones are available which embrace GPS and other technologies for instant in-the-field recording.

Online recording is fast becoming popular with a number of moth recorders and is seen by many as the future or biological recording. The advantages of online recording are many, too many to describe in a blog, however, I’ll introduce three systems of which two are ‘live’ and available to checkout. Butterfly Conservation’s very own online moth recording system is now in its final phase of rigorous testing and should be ready later this year; this system is a single-taxa system as it is specifically designed to record moths only. Further details on our system will be released in due course. The other two systems are multi-taxa online systems that cater for moths.

The Biological Records Centre (BRC) has recently released iRecord (http://www.brc.ac.uk/iRecord/) which uses the newly-developed Indicia platform (http://www.indicia.org.uk/), the open source wildlife recording toolkit. Living Record (http://www.livingrecord.net/) is the third online system which recorders may wish to consider as an alternative. All use the same principle of using online maps and underlying databases to store your records.

Remember, no matter which recording system you choose, be sure that your records reach your County Moth Recorder!

The BC Towers mothtrap has been very quiet recently. The same seems to be true for all recorders with only a scattering of records being reported.

We have also been very busy the past two weeks with the National Moth Recorders’ Conference at Birmingham which continues to be as popular as ever with 170+ attendees from all over the UK and last Friday saw the launch of The State of Britain’s Larger Moths 2013 Report, in conjunction with Rothamsted Research (http://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/insect-survey/) with our Vice-president Chris Packham.

A full downloadable copy of the new report can be found here.

Les Hill

Senior Data Manager, National Moth Recording Scheme and Dorset County Macro-moth Recorder

Follow on Twitter - @DorsetMoths