Thursday, 27 November 2014

New BSBI Handbooks coming soon

One of the images from the forthcoming Viola Handbook
Courtesy of M. Porter
Two more exhibits at this year's AEM are now available to view: a couple of posters on forthcoming BSBI Handbooks.

You can click here to see Mike Porter's poster about his Viola mini-handbook. It's nearing completion and the poster shows some of the features we can look forward to. There's  a comparison of two similar species - V. riviniana and V. canina - and some gorgeous photographs.

Or click here to see Mark Lynes' poster about his forthcoming Alchemilla Handbook, and if you follow him on Twitter @AlchemillaMan you will catch glimpses of some of the specimens he is working on. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

National Plant Monitoring Scheme: Oli's talk at the AEM.

Oli (on right) chats to Pete Stroh (BSBI's
Scientific Officer) over lunch at AEM 2014. 
The first of the presentations from Saturday's BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting has just been uploaded to our website here and it is Oli Pescott introducing the new National Plant Monitoring Scheme

We hope that lots of botanists, at all skill levels, will register here to take part in this exciting new project which will be launched in March 2015.

It's a joint project between BSBI, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, JNCC and Plantlife, but you don't have to be a member of either BSBI or Plantlife in order to take part. 

There will be (free) training sessions to help people improve their ID skills, especially with more difficult groups of plants. This interview with Oli should give you a bit more background on the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, and you can also check out this NPMS page on Plantlife's website

Oli (hatless here!) in the field with Paul Smith, Chair of
Records & Research Committee.
Outer Hebrides, August 2014.
Oli wears several hats - as do many of us in BSBI! He sits on BSBI's Records & Research Committee and is a keen local recorder, both on his home patch(es) and further afield

He also exhibited this poster at the AEM, titled 'A systematic pavement flora of Sheffield'. 

And you can read Oli's blog here.

The BSBI Panel of Referees

Here is the first of the exhibits shown at last weekend's AEM - so even if you weren't there, you won't miss out entirely! Jeremy Ison offered this poster on the BSBI Panel of Referees and Specialists. 

Jeremy (centre) with Uta from the AEM Organising Team
BSBI currently has 105 Referees covering 180 difficult plants or groups of plants. They do an amazing job - all completely unpaid - and having free access to BSBI Referees is one of the main perks of membership. There are even two dedicated Referees to support our beginner botanists.

Full contact details for all our Referees, and instructions on how to send your material to them, are available in the BSBI Yearbook, sent to all our members. Jeremy's poster shows the excellent work they do, the challenges they face, and some possible solutions. What do you think? Do you use the Referee system? Do you find it useful? Let me and Jeremy know please - email us here or leave a comment below. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

More about the AEM 2014 talks.

So, I allocated half an hour to writing a fuller report on the speakers at the AEM for you, and what do you know - Ryan Clark got there before me! 

A packed lecture room at the AEM
Ryan is one of our recent members who exhibited for the first time at this year's AEM, and it's great to see how keen he was to share his experience of the day. I'm glad to say it was a positive experience, so click here to read all about the talks (and I get a half-hour break - many thanks, Ryan!) 

But any of us who saw his exhibit at the AEM shouldn't be surprised that Ryan was so quick off the mark. He had applied the England Red List for Vascular Plants to a site survey he carried out this summer, and was exhibiting his results only two months after publication of the list. A very popular exhibit on the day, and great to see first-time exhibitors like Ryan at the AEM!

Standing room only at the back (don't tell Health & Safety!)
Ryan has kindly agreed to write a guest article here on News & Views about his exhibit, so watch this space. 

You can also follow his blog here - and I've added him to the list on the right of blogs by BSBI members. There are rather a lot now (hurrah!) so you will have to scroll down to see them all. Some informative and inspirational reading in there for a grey day.

Monday, 24 November 2014

BSBI Exhibition Meeting 2014: volunteer members show what they can do!

John Poland's Plant ID Quiz
182 botanists from across Britain and Ireland came together on Saturday for the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting, held this year at the University of Leicester. This makes it our best-attended provincial AEM since records began: we didn't quite beat last year's attendance figure of 192 at the Natural History Museum, in London!

Feedback so far suggests that all the hard work from BSBI's Meetings & Communications Committee and the VC55 volunteers paid off, and a great botanical day was had by all. 

The Lecture Room was full to capacity for talks!
The theme for this year's AEM was BSBI new projects and publications, and the lecture room was packed for our keynote speaker Clive Stace (Emeritus Professor of Plant Taxonomy at University of Leicester). 

His talk 'Hybrids 40 years on' really whetted our collective appetite for his forthcoming Hybrids book, scheduled for publication next spring. BSBI staff offered updates on projects like the England Red List and Atlas 2020, Oli Pescott got us all raring to go on the new National Plant Monitoring Scheme and lots of you liked the three-handed presentation on Euphrasia by Chris Metherell, Fred Rumsey and PhD student Alex Twyford. 

Clive Stace (right) &
Mike Wilcox (VC63)
We hope to make all these presentations available on our website soon, along with any of the 31 exhibits that can be uploaded. 

But going through our feedback forms, one complaint keeps recurring. Under "what could we do better next time?" fourteen people complained that there just wasn't enough time to do everything. 

They had to chose between attending talks, browsing the exhibits, catching up with old friends and chatting to fellow botanists, joining herbarium tours or participating in the Euphrasia workshop. 

To which I can only reply that we were adhering to the old showbiz adage - always leave your audience wanting more of you, not less! If too much choice was the worst aspect of the day, then I think we have done our job!

Arthur, Chris & Ian: catching up over a Euphrasia or three!
Our herbarium guided mini-tours were heavily over-subscribed, even after several regional members graciously stood aside for those who had come from farther afield. 

Diane and Rowan (two of the VC55 Herbarium Volunteers) turned down the opportunity to hear the presentations, in order to show specimens collected by local collectors and former curators such as Tom TutinTony Primavesi and Clive Stace, and current curator Richard Gornall, to 36 visiting botanists. They talked people through what goes on in a herbarium and how you can get involved, by volunteering in your local herbarium or via Herbaria@Home. Email me here to find out more. 

Diane (on right) leading a herbarium tour
Five more VC55 volunteers (Uta, Geoffrey, Pouran, Russell and Ian) spent the day making sure that all our guests were well looked after, and Ian and Jon from Meetings & Communications Committee chaired the sessions beautifully. 

Many thanks to all of them for their hard work, and to all of you who contributed to this year's AEM and made it such a success. 

Keep an eye open here for those uploaded presentations and confirmation of the date of next year's AEM, when we are back at the Natural History Museum.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Guess who's coming to the AEM?

Melampyrum arvense
Image: B. Laney
Apologies that preparations for the Annual Exhibition Meeting, being held this Saturday in Leicester, have taken up so much time in the past fortnight that I haven't had time to keep you updated on these pages.

The good news is that we are all set for a great AEM, and almost 150 of you have already booked to attend. The even better news is that it's still ok to drop in unannounced, although you may not get a lovely name badge with your name printed on it! But the venue is big enough so I think we can fit in a fair few more of you.

You already know who is on the programme and that John Poland will be running one of his vegetative ID quizzes. This year's is on IDing winter twigs.
M. pratense habitat
Image: B. Laney
But here's some news for you: plantfinder extraordinaire Brian Laney will also be coming along for the day! Brian tells me he has "collected a large number of samples especially from Northamptonshire but also the odd specimen from other counties for the past couple of years that I am struggling to identify. Some of the species were found while square bashing for Atlas 2020."  Brian is hoping that fellow members might offer some help with ID. 

I'm hoping to find out more about the habitat management projects Brian is carrying out, to conserve rare and endangered species such as Field cow wheat Melampyrum pratense.

You may want a little light relief after struggling with all those IDs. Jonathan Mitchley may be able to provide that with his trial of plant ID Apps. And if you really can't make it to the AEM, why not check out Jonathan's blog and then maybe trial one of the Apps yourself on Saturday? 

You can leave a comment below - we will have this page open (wifi permitting!) to receive your comments and Jonathan or I can respond and we will share your comments with other guests trialling the Apps. You could also use Twitter - tweet your comments to us: @BSBIbotany for me, or @DrMGoesWild  to reach Jonathan. Let's see if the technology can support a lot of botanists with opinions to share :-)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

The AEM programme

The AEM programme has now been finalised - it should be up on the website soon but here, as you'd expect from News & Views, is a sneak preview of the three talk sessions:

The BSBI Summer Meeting in Perthshire: report (Ian Denholm).
The Irish Species Project (speaker tbc).
The new England Red List for Vascular Plants (Pete Stroh, BSBI Scientific Officer).

The National Plant Monitoring Scheme (Oli Pescott, Biological Records Centre).
The forthcoming Euphrasia Handbook and related projects (Chris Metherell (BSBI)/Fred Rumsey (NHM)/Alex Twyford (RBGE)).  
Recording for Atlas 2020 (Jim McIntosh, BSBI Country Officer).

“Hybrids 40 Years On” (Prof Clive Stace, University of Leicester and BSBI President 1987-1989)
Q&A session with BSBI staff, trustees and officers.

AEM 2013 at the Natural History Museum
If you are new to BSBI and/or the AEM and are unsure what to expect, this video shot by one of last year's speakers may give you a flavour. Rest assured that this year, we will make sure we get everybody's presentations in advance!

If you do want to come, this is absolutely your last chance to book the £10 food and drink package - we are not allowed to bring our own lunch into the venue and the cafe 5 minutes walk away is likely to be very busy at lunchtime. But if you can book via Paypal before final numbers go through to the University caterers tomorrow, then you will enjoy the package outlined on the AEM flyer.

Hope to see you on the 22nd November in Leicester!