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Record status

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Record status

by johnrcrellin » Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:55 am

I am concerned at changes made to my recorded "record status".

Take Anaphalis margaritacea, well-established on old coal tip area in South West VC42 so I record it there as a neophyte. (It's the entry in the VCCC!)

But it turns up in the DDB as "alien, but reported as native or without status by recorder", which isn't true regrading what was originally recorded. What is more I find no suitable category on the list to edit it to except maybe "naturalized escape or alien". I don't see the words neophyte or archaeophyte on this list at all.

My main concern is that the implication in the message that the recorder recorded it as native or without status when that was not true. There are many other cases where I have judged something to be established in the field (and certainly not planted) but this status comes up.

John Crellin
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Re: Record status

by admin » Wed Feb 24, 2016 11:39 am

Hi John,

Status is a complete mess.

There are been huge problems with trying to shoe-horn together conflicting schemes used by different databases (along with differing interpretation of those by individual recorders). Attempting to unpick the meaning of status codes applied to individual records (or if the coding is locally meaningless and simply echoes the county or national status) has been fraught. For example, I think you have used 'neophyte' to mean that plants at the particular local site have arrived in recent times; many recorders have used the term instead to mean that the species (rather than the local occurrence) is a recent arrival; others would have recorded the same plants as 'native' meaning they hadn't been planted and were naturalised and others would have said they were 'alien'.

For want of any agreement over how to proceed the DDb adopted BRC's status categories. We've since had extensive discussions about how to revised and standardise our treatment of status, which ultimately came to no conclusion and the issue was implicitly postponed till after the current Atlas.

I fully accept your point that that 'neophyte' shouldn't have been mapped to 'alien, recorded as native...'. That mistake has happened because of confusing status labels used internally (the 'alien, recorded as native...' is labelled as plain 'ALIEN', whereas the category that might have been better applied (still imperfectly) was ALIEN_ALL - 'Alien (all categories)'. I will amend that, as the 'alien, recorded as native...' category is misleading and essentially useless and shouldn't have been applied to any new data coming in to the DDb.

Once that update is applied your record will be labelled as 'Alien' which is still not equivalent to 'neophyte' but hopefully marginally better captures your intent.

I wish there was a better answer to this. The issue frustrates me and discussions about how to resolve it have often fractured over fundamental disagreements about what status means and how it should be applied - to the point where it appears to be almost impossible to reach a consensus view.
Tom Humphrey
Database Officer, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI)
c/o Centre for Ecology and Hydrology,Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BB, UK.
tom.humphrey@bsbi.org
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Re: Record status

by johnrcrellin » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:17 pm

I posted this and totally forgot to check for a reply - I see you were very prompt!

Thanks for this - I understand the problems! If ever there was an example of a project where one would like to press reset and start again (in 1850).

I see I am not the only one with an "after the current atlas" to do list...

John Crellin
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Joined: Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:02 am
name: John Crellin


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