Sunday, 7 May 2017

It is worth reflecting on progress

Stuart Ball and I took on the Hoverfly Recording Scheme in 1991 and issued our first progress report in March 1992. At that time we had a huge pile of record cards to digitise and there were innumerable datasets to trawl and incorporate into a single entity. So, the first coverage maps comprised a small part of the data: around 100,000 records. The maps we published (Maps 1 & 2) showed the scale of the job to come. Not only were there around 2 cubic metres of record cards to digitise, but the records all had to be checked and erroneous elements resolved. As the early maps show, grid reference errors were commonplace (and still are!).
Maps 1 & 2. Map from the first newsletter in 1992 - overall coverage at 10 km resolution and the numbers of species per 10km square using a graduated scale.

 The most recent coverage maps that I have access to are for the middle of 2015. They provide a clear picture of the progress that has been made. At this point, the dataset comprised around 940,000 records, most grid reference errors had been resolved and the maps look pretty respectable (maps 3 and 4).

Maps 3 & 4. Overall coverage at 10km resolution and graduated scale for the numbers of species in 2015. The overall coverage map is graduated with clear circles and grey circles reflecting older records. Black spots represent the most recent records.

Both sets of maps provide important context for the achievements of the UK Hoverflies Facebook group in 2016. The final pair of maps show the coverage achieved from Facebook. iSpot and iRecord in 2016. These data and a substantial number of other datasets have yet to be completely incorporated into the database, so I cannot show precisely what was achieved in 2016. Nevertheless, these maps show some important achievements; not least how much new coverage has been achieved in south Wales (Maps 5 & 6).

Maps 5 & 6. Overall coverage and numbers of species recorded from Facebook, iSpot and Flickr in 2016
Each year there will be variation in coverage. New recorders will emerge and others will cease activity. Over time the maps will be filled in. So, I think we should look very positively on what was achieved in 2016. The maps for 2017 will be different, and when all of the 2016 data are incorporated I am sure we will see much more extensive coverage. The big challenge remains the need to recruit active recorders in the least well-covered areas.

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