The FSC BioLinks Project

FSC BioLinks is an exciting new biodiversity project for FSC, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, running from 2018 to 2022 inclusive.  BioLinks is all about invertebrate identification!  It will bring together new volunteers with existing volunteers who have skills in invertebrate identification and recording. The aim is to build and strengthen the biological recording community by providing training, learning opportunities and digitial tools for people involved in biological recording and those that wish to become involved.  Training opportunities will be given at all levels from beginner to expert, allowing people to progress and consolidate their skills and experience. 

Putting the invertebrates in order

Books on the Fabre shelfGuest blog by Siiri Hubbard and Nigel Kelly. Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey (1851-1931), was an American librarian, entrepreneur, womaniser, spelling reformer and inventor of a decimal-based system for the organisation of knowledge in libraries.  He divided all knowledge into ten broad subject areas, such as science 500-599; divided each of those areas into ten, such as animals 590-599; divided each of those into ten, such as 598 birds; and so on, such as 598.9 raptors.  Whether it’s books, reports or cdROMs, you can assign them a Dewey number, and all the items on similar subjects in your library and its catalogue come together.  As the meerkat (599.742) says, “simples”.

Addressing the generational skills gap

FSC BioLinks will deliver 60+ training courses per year over 5 years (c) Keiron Derek Brown In 2016 the Field Studies Council (FSC) was awarded a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a project to address the lack of people able to identify and record difficult species groups, with a focus on the West Midlands and South East regions of England. We spent nearly a year consulting with a wide range of professionals and volunteers involved in the natural history sector and something  become very clear: professionals and volunteers alike expressed their concerns that not enough young people were joining the ranks of biological recorders and it is widely recognised that a generational skills gap is developing in field and identification skills, largely due to changes in the way biology and ecology is taught at all levels of the education system.

Plugin the gap...reflections on teaching QGIS for the FSC. Guest blog by Matt Davies

Matt Davies, FSC Associate TutorI like maps. I always have. I can thank both my father, a town planner, and the Scouts for nurturing my interest. With such a background, it’s no surprise that that during my university degrees I developed an interest in GIS!

If you wish to live and thrive...

In 2017 Lesley Lancaster attended all three levels of Tom.bio spider ID courses: 'Learn to Love Spiders', 'Field ID of Spiders' and 'Spider ID With Microscopes'.  Read her account of her 'spider journey' here!

Darwin's Garden earthworm weekend

Sampling for earthworms in Doctors Field, ShrewsburyDarwin had a lifelong fascination with earthworms. A cartoon of the elderly Darwin shows him, deep in thought, with a large earthworm suspended like a question mark above him.  So it was a definite thrill to be setting out for a day of earthworm hunting in Darwin’s childhood garden, where the young Charles discovered and honed his fascination with the natural world.

Joy of Wildlife Walks - guest blog by Keith Fowler

Shropshire entomologists in action2018 will be the seventh year in which I have arranged wildlife walks within the county of Shropshire. These are attended by a number of individuals with a wide variety of interests and skills who like to enjoy what nature has to offer and each other’s’ company.   Read more...

Rewilding and recording - Knepp Estate

Meadows of fleabane at KneppA couple of weeks ago the Tom.bio team (myself and Rich Burkmar), plus FSC Biodiversity Manager Sue Townsend and Biodiversity trainee Sue Loughran, were lucky enough to spend a few magical days at Knepp Castle estate in West Sussex.  

Read on for more...

Learning to Love Spiders - guest blog by Sam Devine-Turner

On 27th May this year I prepared to attend the Learn to Love Spiders workshop run by Tom.Bio – for the second time! I enjoyed last year’s session so much that I just had return. I was a bit nervous, as I have quite a fear of spiders – a topic for another time – but having attended the first time I knew I would not be forced to be any closer to spiders than I was comfortable with.

Book review: Britain's Spiders - a field guide

From British Spider's coverBritain’s Spiders – A field guide by Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford and Helen Smith is a new book from the excellent WILDGuides stable, published in association with the British Arachnological Society. This book will likely fuel a revolution in spider identification in the UK that I believe is already underway. In this blog I will review the new book, but more than that I want to describe what it offers within the context of how people are learning spider identification and recording skills today.

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