04 June, 2024

New Citizen Science Interactive Web Tool

The Data Team at the Marine Biological Association has released a new citizen science web tool, providing data-focused best practices and guidance for creators and users of citizen science data. The tool was developed in partnership with Natural England and funded by Defra and the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) programme and aims to support the growing volume of valuable data from citizen science projects.

Data management and citizen science guidance from over 60 literature sources across various sectors were compiled to create this interactive guide. It highlights the importance of a data management plan, the role of data archive centres, and the journey data can take to maximize reuse and impact. The guide emphasizes sharing data in standardised formats and under open licenses to inform environmental assessments, management policies and scientific research, both nationally and globally. Further information on broader citizen science guidance is also signposted, should you wish to find out more about non-data elements of citizen science projects.

The guide is organized into six data stages: plan, collect, process, preserve, share, and reuse. Each stage includes a description of suggested activities to ensure high-quality and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data, along with a checklist for implementation. Further information regarding each organisation and project mentioned can be found via links, pop-ups or within the glossary. At the end of some activity sections, case studies are included for projects that demonstrate good examples of the implementation of the activities described, to assist users to put the guidance into practice and make the most of existing citizen science initiatives.

The tool is hosted and maintained by DASSH (The UK Data Archive Centre for Marine Species and Habitats) at the MBA, and is a dynamic resource for the citizen science community https://www.dassh.ac.uk/citizen-science/best-practice.

If you have any feedback or questions, please contact dassh.enquiries@mba.ac.uk.

Posted on 04 June, 2024 13:27 by julbun julbun | 0 comments | Leave a comment

20 May, 2024

Invasive Species Week 2024

Over 2,000 plants and animals in the UK are non-indigenous and 10-15% of these are invasive species which are considered to have a negative impact on our native species and a high capacity to spread to natural and semi-natural habitats. Non-indigenous marine species are often accidentally introduced through shipping or arrive naturally on ocean currents.

Invasive Species Week aims to raise awareness of their impacts and of the ways in which everyone is able to help. Recording your sightings via iNaturalistUK supports scientists in monitoring their spread and is an important part of controlling and understanding their distribution.

Some invasive marine species to look out for:

Asian shore crab, Hemigrapsus spp.
Slipper limpet, Crepidula fornicate
Carpet sea squirt, Didemnum vexillum
Chinese mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis
Wireweed, Sargassum muticum
Wakame, Undaria pinnatifida

Visit the Marine Biological Association’s ‘Wakame Watch’ page for further tips on how to ID Wakame and distinguish it from other common seaweeds https://www.dassh.ac.uk/citizen-science/wakame-watch.

Information on the Chinese mitten crab is also available at https://www.mba.ac.uk/help-track-the-spread-of-the-invasive-chinese-mitten-crab-in-the-uk/.

Posted on 20 May, 2024 10:51 by julbun julbun | 0 comments | Leave a comment

29 April, 2024

Marine Species Spring Spotting Guide!

Many of our migratory marine animals and birds will return to UK waters during the spring, here are a few to keep your eyes open for!
Basking sharks, Cetorhinus maximus, follow their migratory routes back to our coasts where you may see them basking on the surface of the ocean as they feed on zooplankton. They are the second largest fish in the world and are identifiable by their huge triangular dorsal fin. Basking sharks are often spotted off the south west coast, especially around Devon and Cornwall, Wales and the west coast of Scotland where they gather around the Isle of Skye and the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides.
The Atlantic puffin, Fratercula arctica, is another of our spring visitors. These tiny birds are members of the auk family and will gather on cliff tops and islands where they settle to breed; they will usually produce just one egg and stay with their partner for life. It is thought that there are around 580,000 pairs of puffins living in the UK and you may be lucky enough to see them if you visit places like the Isles of Scilly, the Farne Islands in Northumberland or the Shetlands.
Finally, if you prefer to stay on dry land, our rockpools will be teeming with life for you to record, including all the favourites such as cushion stars and snakelocks anemones to those you have to search a little harder to find, like chitons or nudibranchs. Who will you discover?

Basking sharks are heavily protected in the UK but numbers are now thought to be stabilizing, however the Atlantic puffin is considered to be in decline which makes the data collected by citizen scientists using iNaturalist important as it will help to support the monitoring and conservation of these beautiful animals.

Posted on 29 April, 2024 15:43 by julbun julbun | 0 comments | Leave a comment

24 April, 2024

Hot Tip Videos

The team at the Natural History Consortium have produced two short videos to help users understand more about

  • setting your licence - how to make sure your observations can be shared and used in research

  • setting your location - how to check your location is accurate

  • how to take better photos - a few tips to help others make an identification

    All viewable on YouTube so feel free to watch and share!


    NHC Video still

    Posted on 24 April, 2024 15:27 by giselle_s giselle_s | 0 comments | Leave a comment

    27 March, 2024

    Spring 2024 Newsletter

    I created a newsletter and wasn't able to send it out. Instead please use this link to take a read!

    Posted on 27 March, 2024 15:36 by giselle_s giselle_s | 0 comments | Leave a comment

    05 March, 2024

    Unusual Marine Sighting

    Sightings of the mantis shrimp, Rissoides desmaresti, are scarce but a Brixham based fisherman, Luke Tanner, reported not one but two this month!

    Rissoides desmaresti is usually found in the Mediterranean but also sometimes found along the Atlantic coast of Europe, reaching upwards to southern British waters. As a burrowing shrimp they create a burrow system in the sediments from the lower shore down to 15 to 50 metres deep.

    They reach lengths of around 10 cm long, have an elongated body with a small shield shaped carapace and large claws, characteristically mantis-like for capturing prey! The five spines along the dactylus of the raptorial claw distinguishes them from our only other British mantis shrimp Platysquilla Eusebia.

    Posted on 05 March, 2024 11:42 by julbun julbun | 0 comments | Leave a comment

    21 February, 2024

    RHS Bumbles on Blooms project – help us stumble on a bumble in your garden or park


    Helen Bostock, Senior Wildlife Specialist at the Royal Horticultural Society explains why the RHS is using iNaturalist to help gather data on flowers visited by bumblebees this spring.

    For a year or two now we have been using iNaturalist to assist our efforts to record wildlife sightings in our five RHS Gardens, helping us build up a picture of the biodiversity that these spaces support and fill in the gaps from more formal surveys. It is also a great tool to direct our staff and visitors towards. And all part of our push to achieve our Sustainability Strategic goal of becoming ‘biodiversity positive’.

    This year though we wanted to try something a little different and see if we could use the traditional iNaturalist project to help answer specific questions raised by our Science team. Initially we had an idea for a fungi project (more on that later this year!) but as that lent itself to an autumn survey and we were impatient to get started we scratched our heads for a neat spring project, something that everyone could get behind and that would also help inform our advice on planting for pollinator insects – and hey presto, the Bumbles on Blooms idea was hatched.

    Why bumblebees?

    Bumblebees just seemed like the perfect subject; the queens start emerging from their overwintering burrows in February, of all the bee species in the UK bumblebees are a group most people wouldn’t have too much difficulty recognising (even if not to species level) and, when visiting flowers bumblebees are pretty relaxed about letting humans snap their photo. We also undertake Beewalks at a number of our RHS Gardens so it’s a pollinator group we have some experience in. That said, we aren’t the bumblebee experts so at the early planning stage we hooked up with the helpful folks at Bumblebee Conservation Trust who were happy to support us by letting us point to their excellent online materials, such as how to photograph bumblebees and a video explaining how to tell the ‘Big 8’ most common species apart.

    Why flowers in parks and gardens?

    Planted spaces – residential gardens, allotments, parks – are where we love to grow lots of trees, shrubs and flowers and collectively they contribute a significant amount of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects to forage on. This is especially true in urban areas. The diversity of flowering plants we like to grow and the desire by gardeners to have things in flower in all seasons means these plants are well placed to supplement wild flowers. This is particularly true at the ends of the season when the vagaries of climate change can put additional pressure on insects. In spring, finding a ready and reliable source of nectar to fuel activity is critical for queen bumblebees. And ditto for pollen which is fed to developing larvae back in the nest. As spring progresses the workers take up the challenge of collecting pollen so February to May* is make or break time for bumblebee colonies. The data we gather from Bumbles on Blooms will help us strengthen our RHS Plants for Pollinator lists and recommendations we give gardeners on the best plants for supporting bumblebees in spring.

    *RHS Bumbles on Blooms runs from 12 February to 31 May 2024

    What else are we asking participants of Bumbles on Blooms?

    In addition to asking what flower the bumblebee is on (this is an optional question, though we would ask that an extra photo of the flower on its own is added to the record if you don’t know so that our team can try to identify it), we are also curious to discover if bumblebees have any preferences for flower colour during the spring months, and how urban or rural the site is where the record is taken. Some studies suggest that the extreme ends of the urban to rural gradient may be less favourable to pollinating insects (and wildlife in general) than in the middle so it would be nice to see if our project supports this.

    So please spread the word. Details on taking part can be found on the RHS Website and the iNaturalistUK project Bumbles on Blooms.  

    As this is a traditional project you will need to take an action join the project and share your observations. More details on how to do this are in the 'How do I take part?' section on the RHS website

    Or if you want to learn more about using iNaturalistUK and traditional projects read this tutorial on Adding Observations to a Traditional Project.

    Posted on 21 February, 2024 10:48 by giselle_s giselle_s | 0 comments | Leave a comment

    06 February, 2024

    Observation Accuracy Experiment

    One of iNaturalist's core goals is generating high-quality biodiversity data to advance science and conservation. They are launching some experiments to better understand the accuracy of these data. The results of the first one are explained in this blog post We estimate the accuracy of Research Grade observations to be 95% correct!

    Take a look at the results to see how the experiment was undertaken and find out more detail. Keep in mind that these results are drawn from a relatively small sample size, but this is the first quantitative accuracy estimate they've had.

    Posted on 06 February, 2024 12:34 by giselle_s giselle_s | 0 comments | Leave a comment

    30 January, 2024

    NBN Awards for Wildlife Recording 2024

    Know someone who's recording wildlife through iNaturalistUK and really making a difference?  Why not nominate them for a 2024 NBN Award for Wildlife Recording?  You can even nominate yourself! Closes: 3 April 2024

    Posted on 30 January, 2024 14:43 by giselle_s giselle_s | 0 comments | Leave a comment

    11 January, 2024

    Marine Highlights of 2023!

    It was great to see that numbers of Saint Piran’s hermit crab (Clibanarius erythropus) are steadily rising along the south west coast of the UK, with dozens of sightings being reported to iNaturalistUK last year. Saint Piran’s hermit crab disappeared from our shores in the late 1980’s and has only recently reappeared. Unlike other hermit crabs their claws are of equal size and have black tips with electric blue and red stripes along their legs.

    Increased numbers of bioluminescent crystal jellyfish (Genus Aequorea) were also reported towards the end of the summer in 2023, this delicate species are not commonly seen in the UK, usually preferring warmer waters. They are easily identified by their many tentacles (up to 150!) and fine white lines radiating from their centres.

    The data collected by iNaturalistUK users is invaluable as it helps scientists globally to identify changes in our oceans.

    Posted on 11 January, 2024 10:25 by julbun julbun | 1 observation | 0 comments | Leave a comment