Biological recording has long been one of my favourite things to do: getting out and writing down what you see, and then sharing your observations with everyone. The value of recording is immense. Your data can be used by anyone, anywhere. People can use it to piece together details on locations, phenology, habitats and much more for a particular species.
There’s no doubt that biological recording aids conservation on a global, national and local scale. Without details on which habitat or foodplant a species prefers, you can’t tell where conservation efforts should be focused. Without knowing where a species is, as is so often the case, conservationists simply can’t protect the species at that location because they just don’t know it’s there.
This is why under-recording is a large concern for many of the more diminutive taxa. Groups like springtails, mosses and fungi are tricky to identify, and therefore it is often the case that little is known about them and they are overlooked. Vast numbers of species fall into these groups, and although many are just as important (and threatened) as more easily-recorded fauna and flora, they aren’t receiving any conservation action.
For many under-recorded groups, recording schemes are being set-up to increase our knowledge. They serve to build up records of these species which can then feed into wider datasets and be used by conservationists. An example of a recording scheme is the Agromyzidae Recording Scheme. This is a relatively new scheme, which is already doing a brilliant job at raising awareness of this particular family of flies and therefore generating interest among naturalists and in turn many more records. A list of recording schemes can be found on this page: https://www.brc.ac.uk/recording-schemes
I’m lucky to live on the border of a county with a flourishing population of biological recorders. Sussex holds its own conference each year – Adastra – which celebrates the achievements of recorders in the county. Events and networks like this are very important in connecting and inspiring recorders, as well as for sharing data. At the time of writing, almost 10,000 species have been recorded on all Sussex Wildlife Trust reserves, a feat which would never have been possible without the dedication of many great recorders. And the information this has produced is invaluable for the management of the reserves.
It’s clear that biological recording is indispensable in the conservation of all organisms, and great advancements are being made. This is especially true with the smaller groups, which will hopefully give us a better understanding of what needs to be conserved. If you don’t know a species is there, how can you conserve it?