DERC Newsletter

No. 54 Autumn 2005

In this issue:

I have now been at DERC for over ten years and during that time I have seen the Records Centre develop from a card filing system with one computer (in a very small office) to an efficient and increasingly productive organisation. A huge part of this has been getting the data from paper records onto the database and mapping systems. It really has transformed the way that we can access and provide information. There has also been a steady increase in the number of enquiries we get each year, many from conservation organisations, but also from local recorders, students and researchers. It has been particularly encouraging to see the Records Centre used by ecological consultants when preparing ecological reports. Underlying all of this is the importance of new records – we need to know what plants and animals are out there. Please don’t assume that someone else has already told us, but keep us informed and then we can play our part in making that data available whenever it is needed.

Carolyn Steele (Record Centre Manager)

A New Species for Dorset

Roesel’s Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)

Roesel’s Bush-cricket
(Metrioptera roeselii)

Photo: M.J. Skelton

 

Distribution map for Roesel’s Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)

Distribution map for Roesel’s Bush-cricket
(Metrioptera roeselii)

(Click on the map for a larger picture)

 

Roesel’s Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii) is the only native British bush-cricket never to have been recorded in Dorset. This normally short-winged and flightless species began to spread from its main stronghold in the brackish grasslands of the Thames estuary in the late 1970s, moving into a diverse range of tall grasslands including chalk downland. This was possibly because when population densities are very high, large numbers of fully-winged (macropterous) individuals are produced which readily disperse and can fly considerable distances. The first record for Dorset came on 11th July 2005 when I found a macropterous specimen at Hengistbury Head, and others in nearby Wick fields. Since then I have located macropters in several places around Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch, with one enterprising individual reaching Ballard Point, Purbeck. These bush- crickets may well have flown over 50 km from mid-Hampshire to reach our area.

DERC would like to hear of other records of Roesel’s Bush-cricket, so listen out between July and October for a high-pitched, continuous, dense buzzing, which has been likened to a high speed drill; this is the stridulation of the males. Records of short-winged examples would be of special interest as these would be evidence for local breeding.

M.J. Skelton

Marine Matters

Rock Cook wrasse (Centrolabrus exoletus) and Pink sea fan (Eunicella verrucosa)

Rock Cook wrasse (Centrolabrus exoletus) and
Pink sea fan (Eunicella verrucosa), at Lyme Bay

Photo: Mike Markey

The Marine Biodiversity Database has now been updated to Marine Recorder v3.04. Currently the database holds over 37,000 individual records from over 60 separate data sets, including the latest Seasearch records for Dorset. This is a vast increase from 18,000 records on the marine database as reported back in 2002.

Part of my role as the Marine Database officer is to promote the database and encourage marine recording. Two of the most interesting opportunities this year have been the Nautical Archaeology Society “Adopt-a-Wreck” workshop where I gave a presentation on the theme of recording the marine life on Dorset Wrecks. More recently I gave a presentation to the Voluntary Marine Wardens at Kimmeridge on environmental recording as part of their training.

We regularly receive records from the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Durlston Marine Project, as well as personal records from divers who have recorded their findings whilst enjoying the amazing marine life which Dorset has to offer. As always we are very keen to include marine species records of any description which you or your organisation hold, onto our database. Every record is beneficial to the biodiversity mapping of the marine habitats and species. The marine database is an important source of reliable information for individuals and organisations that require such information.

For more information on these projects visit:

Dorset Seasearch
Nautical Archaeology Society
Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and
Durlston Marine Project

Danuta Kochanowska (Marine Database Officer)

Changes to the DERC databases

DERC currently holds 1,656,257 records for terrestrial species on its Recorder 3.3 database! With such a huge number of records the database has now reached its limit and no new records will be put onto the system. Our data is currently being transferred to Recorder 6, the new Windows-based system. This version has been specifically designed for records centres that need to manage very large data holdings. It will enable huge volumes of data to be stored on the system and also contains a number of new facilities designed to meet the needs of collating organisations. Recorder 6 fully supports the National Biodiversity Network data standards and has been built in a modular way that can easily be modified or extended through ‘add-in’ programmes.

Our new database should be up and running early next year. This is an exciting development that we hope will make the exchange of data with the many conservation organisations, recording groups and individuals we work with a more efficient process and allow DERC to manage our increasing data capacity.

Julia Armstrong (Environmental Database Officer)