What is Biological Recording?
Biological recording is the scientific study of recording information on where a living organism, habitat or community is found, when it was seen and by whom.

This practice allows us to understand the distribution of living organisms, describing the presence, abundance, associations and changes, both in time and space. In the UK alone, there are an estimated 30,000 terrestrial invertebrates. They are vital to the economic health of our country, as they are crucial for soil health, food production, waste decomposition, flood mitigation and pollination. However, despite their importance and diversity, many people have a superficial understanding of the morphological features that define different invertebrate groups.

Individual species can be active at different times throughout the year and progress through various forms (as larvae, nymphs, and adults). As a result, they can occupy distinct microhabitats throughout their life cycle.

Understanding ‘Biological Recording’ is an essential tool for conservation and ecological planning. It is the foundation on which all scientific data collected by amateur and professional natural historians around the world is formatted and shared.

  • Biological Recorders in the field
  • Women foraging in fungi fields
  • Pat Wolseley looking at lichens in habitats
  • A leaf beetle in the grass

Biological records inform wildlife monitoring, research, nature conservation and policy, as well as helping to engage the public with nature and developing wildlife survey and identification skills.

From moth trapping in your back garden to countryside scale land surveys of habitats, natural historians from all levels of expertise and interest areas can contribute to recording schemes.

Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring Courses

Biological recording underpins many careers within the environmental sector, particularly within ecological consultancy. The FSC recognises its importance and has a range of different levelled courses both online and face-to-face to suit all needs.

If you’re interested in a career in Ecology and Conservation or just interested in putting your Identification skills to good use for conservation, the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and PGCert Biological Recording are run by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in association with the FSC.

Each FSC Natural History course is part of a learning framework. You can see the course level descriptions here

Past course examples have included:

  • Distribution of Lesser Celandine and its subspecies at Preston Montford.
  • Small mammal survey (using Longworth traps)
  • Bat survey
  • Songbird Survey

Through a mixture of lectures, practical workshops, and outdoor surveying FSC courses will help you come to understand the science behind recording our Natural History.

Areas covered on courses include:

  • What goes into a record?
  • Why make biological records?
  • Using grid references and site hierarchies
  • How to use a GPS
  • Designing a good biological recording survey
  • Who’s who in biological recording
  • Validation and vice counties
  • Historical records
  • Confidentiality and status
  • Record schemes and record flow
  • Computers in biological recording

FSC Biodiversity Newsletter

Sign up to the FSC Biodiversity Newsletter to hear about:

  • Subsidised BioLinks courses and events before we advertise them publicly.
  • News and blogs from our BioLinks and Generation Green projects.
  • Exciting new natural history courses from the FSC, including exclusive discount codes for subscribers.
  • When our Natural History courses go live and receive all our offers on courses too!
  • Our extensive (and growing) range of natural history publications, including details of sales and earlybird offers.

Biological Recording Resources

Ancient Woodland Indicator Guide features beautiful colour illustrations of each plant. For ease of use, these are grouped by woodland type, from lowland base-rich woods to upland acid woods and woods on boggy soils.

The Terrestrial invertebrates AIDGAP Many identification guides assume that you know which order the invertebrates belong to. But what if you’re not sure whether you have caught a bug or a beetle? A hoverfly or a bee? A harvestman or a spider? The Terrestrial invertebrates AIDGAP fills in the missing gap between popular picture books and difficult-to-use specialist guides. well as a few rarer trees