The Dorset Marine Biodiversity Database

An electronic record of the species and habitats found off the Dorset coast

Background

Rock cook

Rock cook

Photo: Richard Edmonds

Despite being a county with a superb coastline, up until June 2001 Dorset had no central database for their marine records. This is no longer the case.

The Dorset Marine Biodiversity Database originated at the Dorset Wildlife Trust in June 2000 as the Dorset Central Marine Database. It was transferred to DERC in June 2001 where work has been progressing to draw together, in an electronic format, all the marine species and habitat data from surveys that have been undertaken within Dorset waters. In addition, DERC collated relevant reports and literature on marine work that had been carried out in Dorset.

Since December 2001, there has been a full-time Marine Database Officer working on inputting the backlog of marine records, developing the database and establishing new contacts for obtaining data. From January 2009 the post has been covered by the work of Dorset Wildlife Trustís Marine Survey and Data Officer, who is working to maintain the database and the contacts, whilst continuing to obtain data from the available sources.

Currently the Marine Biodiversity Database holds over 40,000 individual species records and surveys dating from 1802 to the present. In addition the Marine Literature Database holds surveys, reports and literature which are also available to the public and to clients upon request, including the Dorset and Devon Eelgrass Inventory, produced by DERC in 2004.

The aim of collecting all of this data and making it available is so that we might know more about the Dorset marine environment and have this knowledge available for further studies, for informing planning proposals and to inform those who make decisions regarding the management or conservation of the sea and coast.

Data exchange

Male cuckoo wrasse and Anemones

Male cuckoo wrasse and Anemones

Photo: Richard Edmonds

Since December 2001 there has been a full-time Marine Database Officer working on inputting the backlog of marine records, developing the database and establishing new contacts for obtaining data. From January 2009 the post has been covered by the work of Dorset Wildlife Trustís Marine Survey and Data Officer, who is working to maintain the database and the contacts, whilst continuing to obtain data from the available sources. Currently the Marine Biodiversity Database holds over 40,000 individual species records and surveys dating from 1802 to the present. In addition the Marine Literature Database holds surveys, reports and literature which are also available to the public and to clients upon request, including the Dorset and Devon Eelgrass Inventory, produced by DERC in 2004. DERC have established data exchange systems with many national marine organisations, most notably, The Conchological Society and The UK Marine Fish Recording Scheme. Locally, data exchange agreements are established with Durlston Marine mammal project, Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve, Dorset Seasearch, Poole Harbour Study Group, Fleet Study Group, Dorset Wildlife Trust, Southampton Oceanography Centre, Natural England and the Dorset Coast Forum.

The largest source of new information in recent years to feed into the Dorset Marine Biodiversity, will be the habitat and biological data that will come the Dorset Integrated Seabed Study (DORIS); a large seabed mapping project being run by DWT. From this study will come bathymetric, habitat and biotope maps that will feed into Dorsetís marine spatial plan. This spatial plan is being coordinated by C-SCoPE (Combining Sea and Coastal Planning), who are hosted by the Dorset Coast Forum and have the support and input from many other partners in Dorset. Eventually all of the data from DORIS will be publically available through DERC.

Marine Network

We have close links with:

Clients

Previous clients have included:

  • Local Authorities
  • Natural England
  • National Marine Service (EA)
  • Royal Haskoning
  • Scott Wilson
  • Bournemouth University
  • Conservation Consultants Ltd
  • New Forest District Council
  • BMT Cordah Ltd.

Funding

The initiation and subsequent maintenance of the Dorset Marine Biodiversity Database would not have been possible without the support of:

  • Dorset Wildlife Trust;
  • QinetiQ;
  • SCOPAC (Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline);
  • Dorset County Council;
  • Natural England;
  • Environment Agency;
  • Viridor Credits

to whom we are grateful.