Welcome to the Record Centre

Welcome to the website of the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre, one of many local record centres around the UK. We collect, manage and disseminate wildlife data, providing an information service for the whole of Sussex; this includes the counties of East and West Sussex and the City of Brighton and Hove.

Latest Record Centre News & Commentary

Sharing Sussex Beetle Records

Gastrophysa viridula

Peter Hodge has been keeping field notebooks for Coleoptera in Sussex since 1971. At Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre we are occasionally given old field notebooks by recorders so we can extract the information and turn it into biodiversity records which go into our species record database, and in 2006 Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre began the task of digitising Peter’s notebooks.
Each notebook contains about 3,000 records, collected by Peter for surveys he carried out as well as casual records. For tasks such as these, volunteer power is vital seeing them through. Over the years many volunteers at SxBRC have been busy typing away over one of the fourteen notebooks, and by 2015 eight notebooks had been typed up, checked by Peter and uploaded into the Sussex database.
As well as Peter, another 1,000 people have recorded at least one beetle in Sussex with records going back as far as 1850(?)! Most of our data now comes to us in a digital format, making it much easier to get into our database quickly, but notebooks such as Peter’s are valuable sources of ‘historic’ data that can show us what’s changed over the last 40 years.
We were eager to get the rest of the notebooks completed so we could put together a comprehensive list of all the beetles recorded in Sussex and be able to share the data with national recording schemes, so in 2015 SxBRC applied for a Natural England Open Licensing of Species Data grant. This was a great opportunity to complete digitising Peter’s notebooks, as well as being an opportunity to look into how ‘Open Data’ works within biological recording and what challenges might face us in the future, including discussing with other Sussex Coleoptera recorders about making their data open and available on the internet. The final outcome would be an ‘as-complete-as-possible’, good quality Sussex Coleoptera dataset available for use under an Open Licence (CC-BY), minimising duplication of records and following recorders wishes with regards to sharing their data.
The project was carried out over 6 months, where staff and volunteers typed up the remaining 15,000 records as well as prioritising other beetle datasets for import. Gathering all the data together was just one part of the project, as we launched a consultation into data sharing with the Sussex beetle recording community. We also opened up dialogues with the 17 different national Coleoptera recording schemes in Great Britain to talk about how we could share data in the best way for them in the future – not just as a one off data exchange.
After being digitised, verified, filtered for any data not to be shared, and formatted – we had 92,465 records ready to go onto the NBN Atlas!
The NBN, or National Biodiversity Network, is a membership organisation that encourages sharing of biological data in the United Kingdom and makes it available through an online map – the NBN Atlas. The new Atlas was launched in April this year and currently holds data from 119 data partners, for 71,327 different species. From here you can download species data as well as look at it online and carry out analysis using the in-built atlas tools. This means that anyone who has discovered a beetle in Sussex and wants to check where else it’s been recorded can go onto the Atlas and search through our dataset, to see if it’s been recorded in Sussex before and where.

You can find the dataset on the NBN Atlas here: https://registry.nbnatlas.org/public/show/dr1473

The project is finished, but we’re going to continue adding to the dataset and working with recording schemes as part of our ongoing commitment to sharing Sussex Coleoptera. If you download the data and do anything with it, we’d love to hear about it!

Roger Dumbrell, Zdenek Boucek and Peter Hodge

From left to right: Roger Dumbrell, Zdenek Boucek and Peter Hodge, Wilmington Downs, 1 August 1971

The Sussex Biological Recorders' Seminar 2017

SBRSInvite2017

The Sussex Biological Recorders’ Seminar on Saturday 11 February is now open for bookings, and you’re invited!

If you’ve ever thought about getting more involved in recording wildlife in Sussex – there is no greater introduction than coming along to the seminar-formerly-known-as-‘Adastra’.
We’re really excited about the talks we’ve got lined up this year. There’ll be lots of local interest with our very own Barry Yates talking to us about the saltmarsh re-creation at Rye Harbour; Paul Johnson on the reptiles and amphibians of Sussex; Tom Forward & Brad Scott taking us on a tour of the natural history of Forest Row; an update from Michael Blencowe on ‘The Butterflies of Sussex’; and David Plummer sharing his findings from the ‘BN5’ Owl Project.
We’ve also got a chap called Chris Du Feu coming all the way from Nottinghamshire to introduce us to the wonderful world of slugs. (Chris has promised to waive his speaker’s fee in its entirety, if Sussex biological recorders bring some slugs along to the seminar for him to identify. So please bring slugs!) Mark Gurney from the national Weevils & Bark Beetles recording scheme will be sharing his love of Weevils. And Brighton resident, Chloë Rose, will also be joining us to share her experiences with the Natural History Museum’s Identification Trainers for the Future programme.

Click here to book your place.

Privet Sawfly - A Sussex first

Macrophya punctumalbum

In the hedge a couple of metres from our back door in Sedlescombe, East Sussex (TQ782188) I have recently seen several examples of the rather handsome Privet Sawfly (Macrophya punctumalbum) wandering about on the leaves. I have not come across this here or anywhere else and have been unable to find any previous records from Sussex.

There is a thin spread of records across the southern part of Britain and it is widespread in Surrey, so it is probably simply under-recorded in Sussex, though I am surprised I have not seen it in our hedge before as I usually walk past it several times a day. It may have cycles of relative abundance and scarcity.

The larvae feed on ash, privet (Ligustrum vulgare), lilac and other members of the Oleaceae family and, rather unusually for insects of this kind, the adults browse on leaves of the same plants. There is a characteristic grazed patch towards the top right of the picture above. The picture is of a female and while males are found occasionally, the species is said to be mainly parthenogenetic.

This record, which may be a first for Sussex, shows the value of walking round the house several times a day and looking out for anything interesting. It helps one to see things that would otherwise have been missed as in the wider countryside the eye is drawn on to more interesting looking sites. It also provides a little exercise for the relatively housebound. The piece of hedge where these sawflies occur does not look a particularly promising spot though wild privet and ash grow together there.

Patrick Roper 7th June 2016