What is a biological record and why is it important ?
What did I see? The first step in making a record is to identify what you have observed. With the exception of some microscopic life, all living things are assigned a unique identity in the form of a species name. While some species have common names, such as ‘mallard duck’ or ‘common frog’, many do not. However, they all have a ‘scientific name’, which is unique to them and understood internationally. Scientific names have two parts, usually derived from Greek or Latin: the first part is the group, or ‘genus’ to which the species belongs, and the second part identifies the actual species. It is the two parts together that make up the unique names of all living things. The scientific name for the Mallard duck is Anas platyrhynchos. This shows that it belongs to the genus ‘Anas’ which is Latin for duck, and indicates that the Mallard is related to other ducks. The species name, platyrhynchos, is Greek for flat bill, referring to its typical ducklike bill.
If a species is not immediately recognisable, you can consult identification keys, field guides, or ask for help from someone who knows more about this group. For LNHG recording purposes four items are crucial : Species, Location, Date and Observer. Other information can be provided such as weather, habitat and numbers but this is not essential. LNHG would like to ask the assistance of all its members whether they are LNHG paid-up members or not to help provide this information. If you wish to participate please post your sightings on the LNHG Facebook Group with the relevant information and if possible a photo which helps with ID. Alternatively you can pass records to Carl Farmer on email : firstname.lastname@example.org at ABReC.
Biological records provide the basic information for all meaningful actions to protect and enhance wildlife. We may also use them to check that our efforts have their intended effect. Government agencies and local government require detailed and reliable information so that they can carry out their statutory functions, which include protection of some species. A better understanding of declines or increases in species populations, or changes in their locations, enables us to plan how to avoid local losses and be forewarned of any important changes underway in the natural world.
Richard Wesley (Lorn Natural History Group)