Monday, 15 October 2018

BSBI recorders' conference

I have just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable BSBI recorders' conference at FSC Preston Montford near Shrewsbury. The conference is one of the main events in the BSBI calendar, when vice county recorders, taxonomic referees, BSBI staff, active recorders and anyone else interested in the British flora come together to discuss topical botanical issues and learn yet more about plants. The conference this year was very much focused on training and the future of botany in Britain and Ireland, and there was much lively discussion around these. The many workshops included docks and willowherbs, Abies (firs), how to press plants, and introductions to critical taxa such as Taraxacum and brambles. The slides and training material from all the talks and workshops will soon be available from the BSBI website.

We had a useful update on Atlas 2020 from Pete Stroh, BSBI science officer, recent appointee to the new position of English officer and Atlas 2020 coordinator. Pete told us about the likely outputs of the Atlas 2020 project: a printed book, similar to the previous New Atlas; a smaller less dense publication summarising the findings; and an online format, similar to the existing online New Atlas but with greater scope for extra detail on distribution, ecology and conservation. He also set us the deadline of the end of December 2019 for all data entry and validation for Atlas 2020 — if you are sitting on records please therefore think about sending me them this winter!

Local botanists using the BRC's iRecord website or app to collect and store their records will be interested to hear about progress in linking the iRecord database with the BSBI's Distribution Database (DDb). Our own Oli Pescott of BRC gave a talk on iRecord, informing the audience that all being well the two databases will be talking to each other by the New Year. Records imported to the DDb from iRecord will be held in a 'quarantine' area from where they can be liberated by county recorders.

You would think that I might have some nice photographs of botanists conferring by which to remember this excellent event. Not so. Without apology, the only images I collected were of dead plants stuck to paper, and dead roses at that. I had taken with me a stack of Oxon's best and weirdest roses to subject to the scrutiny of the BSBI Rosa referee. I was very pleased to have confirmed specimens from Sydlings Copse Nature Reserve tentatively identified as Rosa obtusifolia x micrantha (third from left below) and R. micrantha x rubiginosa (=R. x bigeneris) (second from left below). Both are rare roses and new county records. The former is also at Aston Rowant, as reported last autumn. Also confirmed was R. sherardii x canina (=R. x rothschildii, first on left below) at the reserve, making it one of the best sites for roses in the county. The referee was less convinced by my several possible R. obtusifolia x arvensis (=R. x rouyana) (below right). A really odd rose that had completely stumped me also proved unnameable (right). Such intractable specimens are part of the fun and frustration of roses.

The next BSBI event is the Annual Exhibition Meeting on 17th November. Will you be coming along?

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