To find out how submitting species records can help and to learn more about the new traffic light system we’re promoting, continue reading below. Make sure you read and understand the next two paragraphs as they help highlight an important distinction between the popular iNaturalist recording platform and our own.
Not all species are equal when it comes to how their records are used. Some have statuses and protections associated with them. All bats for example are protected by law from interference. If recorded using iNaturalist, these important species can not be used by us when responding to planning applications or when we provide them to organisations such as the Environment Agency. This would be determined to be commercial use. Here you can help again by telling us in a different way. You can use our new online recording system.
Note: Because of the public release of records on iNaturalist, if you are concerned about a species sighting being publicly visible, please use the SERC online recording system.
Apps We Recommend
How You Can Help
Across the world, people are using a website/application called iNaturalist. It’s not corporate or government lead. This is a joint initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society. There is now a dedicated UK team. Consisting of representatives from the National Biodiversity Network (NBN), The Biological Records Centre (BRC), and the Marine Biological Association (MBA). They collaborate with iNaturalist for the iNaturalistUK network.
With the climate and ecological emergencies that have been announced across the county, there is renewed interest in finding out and recording the species we have. The team at SERC are now going to be promoting a traffic light system for recording species across Somerset. To ensure that no matter what level of recording skill you have, you’ll be able to take part in contributing.
Don’t know anything about wildlife? Then use an app like Seek. First, set up an account with iNaturalistUK. You can then connect your iNaturalistUK account to the Seek app on your phone. Seek uses your camera to try to help identify the species observed using artificial intelligence (AI) and based on where you are. Using Seek, you can easily record what you spot whilst out on a walk, or as part of a dedicated recording effort and choose to share these observations with iNaturalist. If not already, once you’re mobile device is connected to the internet, it will upload your observations to your iNaturalist account. Then others can begin to confirm and validate what you saw. Because it’s your record, you can then choose to upload your sighting on to SERCs very own online recording system, ensuring that the observation you’ve made will be counted in Somerset’s official species database.
Note: Be aware though, like most technologies, Seek is not 100% accurate, it’s just a helpful tool and it’s best to check your records once back at home! iNaturalist has an app for those with more confidence or who are ready for the next level. It should also be noted that recording sightings with iNaturalist also means that these observations can’t be used to inform planning applications.
Onto the next level. You’ve already started honing your skills, relying on learnt species and field guides to help identify your observations. Luckily, if you have a data connection on a mobile device, the SERC online recording system will allow you to use your location to help record your sighting. If your unsure of what you’re looking at it could still be nice to have apps provided by iNaturalist and Seek to help I.D and both could be useful resources to help submit to SERCs online system.
Note: Unlike iNaturalist, submitting sightings using the SERC online recording system will allow SERC to provide records to planning applications.
You probably don’t need any help! By now you’re a pro, likely a member of one of Somerset’s specialist recording groups or possibly working as an ecological consultant. We can help facilitate specialised recording forms using the SERC online recording system.