I have been busy with a lot of collection care this week as well as getting to grips with some of the different computer systems that are used in the collection.
I had some training this week in modes which is the software that we used to organise and have easy access to our database. Modes is the most popular type of this software and is used in most UK museums, each individual museum specimen is entered onto it with all its information. Then when you need to access certain data you can search for it by date, keyword or identity number then this information can easily be formatted for different uses. Most of the natural history collection is on their particularly the taxidermy however there is still lots that needs to be added but this is a very time-consuming process so adding as you come across seems to be the best way to handle it.
This week we were looking through the extensive collection of skulls for signs of domestication, for a college group that are studying domestication in animals. We were particularly interested in the wolf and dog skulls that are in the collection we felt that this would offer a clear visual comparison of the affects that domestication has on the skeleton of that animal. We found a few good examples we had 3 wolf skulls and then 2 dog skulls one of which had a shortened snout such as a bulldog though our example was not that extreme. But this makes a great example for domestication as it shows the impact of selective breeding. While doing this we also found some skulls that had not been entered into modes, so I tested out my newly acquired modes skills and entered these items on to the database.
The CBDC main job is collecting data from volunteer recorders all across Cumbria, this data is collected in field then the information entered using the resources found on the (CBDC) website. A lot of the work that i do for the CBDC is entering species records that have been collected in Cumbria into the computer so that they are easily accessible in the future. So i thought that i would tell you a bit more about the kind of information that is needed for a biological record, information on a possible record has to contain certain points these are:
Date- this needs the exact date that it was spotted, this can also be the subsequent dates it was sighted. This information is often checked to make sure that this time lines up with the general information on that particular species e.g. is it active this time of year, does it migrate to this area, has it been seen at this time before in this area.
Location- this is the specific area that it was spotted, often this is a grid reference as this is the most accurate way and can be easily found by anyone. This is a key point and is needed to check the record, this information can be categorised into two ‘groups’ 10km2 and is considered less useful or it can be more specific say within 1km2 this information is a lot more useful and often easier to confirm. If it is a species that has not been recorded in this area before then the location is particularly important as to confirm a potential new record there are further steps and without a location the record is two loose.
Species- this is the species ID this is necessary to once again check the accuracy of the record. Proof of the record is often needed, for example taking a picture of the species or bringing a sample if appropriate e.g. herbarium sheet. Photos are often the best thing to record as they can be time stamped and offer a lot of information about the species.
Recorder- to confirm the species we need the name of the recorder and often more information on the recorder so that the accuracy of the information can be checked, for example if they have collected records for us before, education/experience and if the recording as witnessed by anyone.
Being able to collect records on our biodiversity in this way means that we know the accuracy of different sightings. This means that any way they may be used in the future will be accurate and offer the correct information, this means that the data can be applied in a number of ways. An example of a record can be seen above, this is the record sheet that goes with one of the herbarium sheets in our lakeland herbarium collection.