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News from Biodiversity Ireland

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News from Biodiversity Ireland
February 2023

This monthly newsletter provides an update on some of the work of the National Biodiversity Data Centre and highlights upcoming events. 

Biodiversity Maps now has over 6 million records!

A major milestone was passed earlier this week when the number of records available to view on Biodiversity Maps breached the 6 million mark. Biodiversity Maps now maps 6,000,031 records of 17,398 different species from 172 different datasets. Biodiversity Maps is the national data and mapping portal that promotes the open sharing of data on Ireland’s biodiversity.

The six million record milestone was reached with an update to the Wasps of Ireland dataset. The Wasps of Ireland dataset is a recently created collection of wasp records from across Ireland. Before its creation, nearly none of the existing wasp records had ever been digitized and mapped, so this was an important step in providing the foundations for conserving wasp species in Ireland. The dataset currently contains 3,878 records spanning 99 different species and is being continually updated as new records are submitted by our recorders. The Wasp dataset also incorporates a survey of Spider Hunting Wasps compiled by Dr Aidan O'Hanlon. There are 851 records in this survey, with data feeding in from various sources including field observations, research in museums and records submitted through Ireland's Citizen Science Portal to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Later this year, a new Ants of Ireland dataset will also be created, so for the first time there will be dedicated species information pages and distribution maps for wasps and ants on the National Biodiversity Data Centre website. The two new datasets are intended for use in drawing up the first conservation ‘Red List’ for wasps and ants in Ireland, which will be a significant step in aiding their conservation.

Publishing the dataset through Biodiversity Maps brings the added value that Wasp data can now be viewed in association with other species data, and it is freely available to be used in decision-making.

Biodiversity Maps dedicated website can be viewed here

Planting Trees for Pollinators

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is delighted to release a new free resource: a flyer with guidance on planting trees for pollinators, produced with the support of the Tree Council of Ireland, the Native Woodland Trust, and Trees on the Land. We also thank the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine who have supported the flyer and provided funding for its design.

Pollinators like wild bees need nectar and pollen for energy and protein. Tree flowers can provide both, often when other food is scarce in spring and early summer when bees emerge from hibernation.

Native pollinator-friendly trees include Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Willow, Rowan, Wild Cherry and Crab Apple, which also support other native Irish flora and fauna throughout the year.
Kate Chandler, Communities and Engagement Project Officer for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan said:

“Tree planting is growing in popularity as people look for ways to help address the climate and biodiversity crisis. We hope this flyer will help anyone interested in tree planting learn about how to make the best choices for pollinators.

Find out more and download the flyer here

Spring Flowers Project 

The Spring Flowers Project is a joint initiative between the BSBI and the Data Centre which was kicked off in 2017, and comprises an agreement between both parties to target 20 easily identifiable spring flowers for recording, along with the provision of a special on-line recording form specifically for the project. This project is suitable for all knowledge levels and is also perfect for beginners or entry-level recorders, so if you’re interested in recording plants but don’t know where to start, why not check out our Spring Flowers Project.

The project is looking for records of 20 species, most of which are common and easily distinguished from other plant species. Spring flowers have already been spotted in flower, so over the coming weeks it’s a good time to get your eye in for what species are in your area. Things to look out for at this time of year are species like Lesser Celandine, Primrose and Coltsfoot. Non-native species such as Winter Heliotrope and Three-Cornered Garlic are also in flower and particularly noticeable at this time of year.
There is currently 300+ records already submitted through Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal for our chosen species, with Lesser Celandine being the most heavily recorded.

Lesser Celandine Identification Tips:
It's easily identified by yellow flowers, with generally 8-12 petals and dark green heart-shaped leaves. It can be found growing in woodlands, roadsides and hedgerows

More information on the Spring Flowers Project can be found on our webpage here as well as resources, like or Spring Flowers Project Spotter Sheets, which are available in both Irish and English. Keep an eye out on our social media platforms also and follow along using #SpringFlowersProject 
Spring Flowers Spotter Sheet (English)
Spring Flowers Spotter Sheet (As Gaeilge)
Remember to submit all your records through

Why does it matter if timings in nature change?

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is inviting members of the public throughout Ireland, farmers and non-farmers, to participate in the Farmers' Wildlife Calendar – Climate Tracker. Which aims to unravel some of the impacts that a changing climate is having on Ireland’s biodiversity and its four seasons.

Many people are familiar with the human urge to categorise everything into nice and neat arrangements such as our seasons and the dates upon which they fall. However, nature doesn’t tend to follow the same rules that we apply to ourselves. For instance, some believe that the transition from winter to spring occurs on the 1st of February, whereas for others it’s the 1st of March. But for nature, a particular date on the calendar does not signal the time to bud, or the time to breed.

So our biodiversity depends on environmental signals, like temperature to know when to proceed to the next stage of their life cycle and the timing of their life cycle is now being affected  by climate change - simple enough right? Lets go one level deeper. There are synchronicities in nature where plants have evolved over time to flower at the same time as the insects that feed on them and pollinate them. If this synchronicity is disrupted by climate change, we could end up with a scenario whereby we have plants that need to pollinated but no insects to pollinate, or a scenario where insects have emerged but there are no plants for them to feed on. Either way, they are both at risk.

Through the Farmers' Wildlife Calendar we are looking for the first record of nine seasonal events to track the effects of climate change on our biodiversity:

  • Orange-tip Butterfly
  • Frog spawn
  • Ashy Mining Bee
  • Flowering Primrose
  • Blackthorn
  • Common Cuckoo
  • Swallow
  • Large Red-Damselfly
  • Marsh-marigold
Go to Farmers' Wildlife Calendar

Prepare for the upcoming recording season

While we are still in February and we are waiting for the upcoming field season to begin, it is the perfect time to refresh your knowledge on your identification skills or tackle a new group entirely. Ireland's Biodiversity Learning Platform hosts courses both developed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and other organisations to support collaborative learning on Ireland's biodiversity.

Go to Ireland's Biodiversity Learning Platform

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has been established as a Company Limited by Guarantee (Register Number: 730718), with oversight provided by the Heritage Council.

National Biodiversity Data Centre Beechfield House, South East Technological University, West Campus, Carriganore, Co. Waterford, Ireland. X91 PE03

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