Friday, 10 May 2013

A revolution in ladybird recording

iRecord Ladybirds app
Ladybirds are charismatic insects and so it is perhaps not surprising that people in Britain have enthusiastically recorded them for centuries. With the launch today of a new ladybird recording app for mobile phones and iPads,  Dr Helen Roy from the UK Ladybird Survey updates us on how ladybird recording has changed over time. 

Tens of thousands of people have contributed to ladybird recording in Britain since the first record more than two centuries ago.  At that time it would have been difficult to imagine the technologies that now prevail in the world of biological recording.  Notebook and pencil and perhaps an entomological net have been, and remain, the essential tools of ladybird recording.  However, new technologies  provide opportunities to support this pursuit. 

Ladybird records span more than two centuries: the record cards above are
from the 1970s and 1980s.

Since the launch of the online UK Ladybird Survey in 2005, interest in ladybird recording has grown beyond expectation.  Indeed it has been inspirational.  The smartphone app launched today links to the new ladybird recording form within iRecord, allowing recorders to manage their own records and benefit from rapid verification by an expert behind the scenes.
Helen Roy and Barnaby Smith of CEH using the new ladybird app


Over the years the UK Ladybird Survey in its many guises (Coccinellidae Recording Scheme and Cambridge Ladybird Survey) has benefitted from rich and fruitful collaborations.  The project to develop the app was no exception.  The app was developed through the Biological Records Centre at CEH in partnership with the fabulous NatureLocator team at Bristol University and John van Breda at Biodiverse IT.  It is the latest in a line of apps from this team which to date include Leaf Watch and Plant Tracker and, in the near future, butterflies and orthoptera.
The new app and iRecord are set to revolutionise ladybird recording in Britain and the UK Ladybird Survey will take advantage of new technologies for biological recording with the aim of increasing participation even further while retaining the high quality data available for all to share.  However, nothing will detract from the pleasure of being in the field with a net, notebook and pen on a quest for ladybirds!
Dr Helen Roy

Additional information

Dr Helen Roy is an ecological entomologist at the Biological Records Centre within CEH

iRecord is a web-based tool for managing and sharing wildlife records
The iRecord Ladybirds app is currently available via the Apple store and will soon be available for Android devices through the Google store.

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