Making a record

The basic definition of a record is ‘an account of the occurrence of one species at one location on one day by one person’.  A record must be able to answer the questions What? Where? When? and Who?  The following may seem onerous, but please be undeterred – most of the details will only have to be noted once for each site visit and some only apply to unusual species.

  • What? is answered by the name of the species of mollusc.  Please use the current scientific name listed on the recording cards or a recommended checklist.  For non-marine species there is an accepted list in widespread use: Currently the dictionary used for marine molluscs is the Ulster Museum and Marine Conservation Society Species Directory. However, as long as you use a recognised scientific name this will be acceptable, even if it is not considered to be, taxonomically, up to date.  This will enable the species to be correctly entered into the database by the relevant Society Recorder. 
  • Where? is answered by the name of the site or locality.  It is best to give the name of the site followed by the nearest town or port shown on a reasonably detailed Ordnance Survey map, 1:50,000 for example, or on a marine chart.  Give a grid reference – six figures is a minimum.  You may wish to give a more detailed grid reference for a particularly unusual find.  For marine species where latitude/longitude coordinates can be determined, the preferred format would employ degrees and minutes as whole numbers with seconds as decimal places, or degrees with decimal places for minutes and seconds combined.  Noting the Watsonian Vice County and Vice County number or Sea Area  provides the Recorders with a quick check for mistakes over grid references.  Please describe the habitat type with a more detailed description to help the Recorders and augment the quality of your record.
  • When? refers to the date the mollusc was found.  Dates should be written using the format dd/mm/yyyy to avoid any confusion, e.g. 05/09/2006.  Less specific dates are acceptable such as 00/07/2004 if the exact day is not known and where, for example, historical records are being submitted, 00/00/2003 if neither the day nor month is known.
  • Who? (by whom?) is answered by the name of the person who found the mollusc i.e. the recorder.  Please give contact details.  Usually the person who finds the mollusc will also identify it so that the recorder will also be the determiner.  However, if the mollusc has been identified by someone else, i.e. it has been sent to an expert to be checked, then the name of the expert should be included together with his/her contact details.  It will be assumed that the determiner is the same as the recorder if only one name is given.

Other useful information,

  • Origin of the record - it will be assumed that the record came from a note in the recorder’s field notebook or recording sheet unless otherwise stated.  Please make a note if the record came from a journal or other publication.
  • Abundance – any indication of abundance greatly enhances a record.  If a standard method of recording abundance is used, then valuable comparisons can be made with other dates and other sites.  An ACFOR scale is provided on the marine record card.  This scale should be employed on the basis of the number of specimens seen on the day of recording and is not a subjective assessment of the numbers of individuals that are likely to be at the locality on the day in question.  For example, if only one specimen of the top shell Gibbula cineraria is seen on the day, then it should be scored R which represents one individual only.  If the recorder wishes to stipulate the number of individuals observed then this can be done under notes.  This may be particularly useful for low numbers of individuals.  More accurate assessments of abundance can only be carried out during organised survey work.  If no indication of abundance is given, the species will be recorded as ‘present’.  Remember that absence can also be an interesting observation, especially when coupled with an estimate of the time spent searching and compared with records from previous years.
  • Time spent at the site is also interesting particularly if coupled with abundance figures.
  • A more detailed description of the habitat.  
  • Associated biota.
  • Location of specimens retained.

The Recorders will aim to capture all the information sent in with records which, provided they supply all the requisite information, will be gratefully received. The Society has a very open policy to the records that it holds