Summary of discussion from the BRC meeting on the challenge of recording and monitoring rare and restricted species, 16th January 2016

The key points raised and discussed, after Michael's talk, included:

  • There is a need to investigate whether reported declines in rare species are unrepresentative by a tendency to revisit known locations?

  • Although recording of rare species important, it should be noted that visits to target sites are also accompanied by complete lists of other species recorded in the same species group.Many valuable records are collected this way, plus non detection during visits can be used to infer absence of species.

  • The value of Species Distribution Models for targeting recording was recognised. A caveat is that environmental data at the required scale is not often readily available, particularly when predicting the distribution of rare species which have highly specific requirements.Improving models and environment data is an important research requirement.

  • Rare caddis records scattered around the country. For over half of species, the national expert couldn’t predict where new sites might be given the lack of ecological knowledge. A requirement is that when a rare species is found, it is very valuable to capture as much detail as possible about the habitat and location found in.

  • Selecting sites for harvest mouse survey based on likely occurrence and accessibility has proved valuable to stimulate interest in Kent.Assessments via Google earth etc. identify places which are easy to drive to or are very local to recorders’ homes so more are visited!

  • The value of ‘challenge-based’ recording was recognised, for some volunteers at least, as way to encourage more recording.Keen-ish recorders are probably a good target audience – those who are fairly active and knowledgeable, but don’t necessarily know which squares would be useful to record (‘bash').

  • The problem of access to land was recognised as a potential barrier. Greater co-ordination of best practice for accessing land would be helpful.LRCs were recognised as valuable organisations for supporting recorders and recording projects on a more local basis.

  • The need for consolidated information across species groups was recognised. An interactive map identifying good quality sites based on aquatic plants would be valuable to dragonfly recorders for example

  • For recording some groups, having information tied to sites (polygons) is most useful.For example, dragonfly records linked to a pond, not just grid square for example.

  • In addition to rare species recording, there was support for wider availability of lists of ‘likely but not recently recorded’ species for given areas. Such a data would be of interest to recorders visiting a new area, provided with a target list for their group.