Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Biological Records Centre 50th Birthday Party

Chris Preston (right) with senior BRC colleagues; a brace
of Roys;  Mark Hill about to cut the cake
Image courtesy of BRC
Chris Preston has been in touch about the recent 50th anniversary bash for the Biological Records Centre. He gave a talk on Hybrids at the Symposium on 27th-28th June in Bristol, organised to mark this milestone and celebrate 50 years of BRC supporting biological recording.

There is an excellent leaflet summarising BRC's history so far, and it's great to see all the mentions in it of BSBI and the way that we and BRC have worked together through the decades. In the section 'Botanists take the lead', we read how a "resolution at the BSBI conference in 1950 to map the British (and Irish) flora" led to the launch in April 1954 of the Atlas of the British Flora project and the publication of the Atlas in 1962.  

Fieldtrip with a view for BRC Birthday Bashers
Image: courtesy of BRC
"Building on ideas and methods proposed and tested in the UK and in Europe over the previous 50 years, the Atlas aimed to record, and map, each species of vascular plant in the 10km squares of the Ordnance Survey National Grid". 

You can read more about BSBI's pioneering approach to recording in a paper by Chris Preston called 'Following the BSBI's lead: the influence of the Atlas of the British flora, 1962-2012'. Here is the abstract of Chris's paper in New Journal of Botany3.1   (published in April 2013), and if you are a BSBI member you can read the whole paper on-line.

The BRC Team inc Oli and Jodey
Image: courtesy of BRC
As the BRC leaflet points out, "Perhaps the most critical aspect of the project was the adoption of data processing equipment using punched cards. This enabled 1.5 million records to be sorted and mapped mechanically and the use of information technology became integral to biological recording. It was from these origins that BRC was established in 1964 with Franklyn Perring as head".

I am hoping that Chris may reprise his Hybrids talk at this year's BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting in November and that some of the new generation of BRC botanists and ecologists - like Oli Pescott and Jodey Peyton, both BSBI members - will be on hand to tell you all about the first half-century of BSBI and BRC working together.