The Auchenorrhyncha Recording Scheme

History

The Auchenorrhyncha Recording Scheme was set up in 1979 by Keith Payne when working for what was then the Nature Conservancy Council. He gathered and collated a large amount of information from published sources, together with his own records.  In 1983, the Scheme was passed on to Walter Le Quesne, who greatly extended the collation of information, especially from museum material, and produced the first distribution maps for individual species (by writing a special programme on his BBC computer!). Unfortunately, he had to relinquish co-ordination of the scheme in 1986 due to ill-health. Since then, the scheme has been managed by Alan Stewart.

Purpose

The scheme is designed to collect, store and synthesise records of Auchenorrhyncha in Britain and Ireland (including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands), specifically to:
  • Map and interpret the geographic distributions of individual species.  
  • Gather data on the ecological characteristics of individual species, such as seasonal phenology, voltinism, host plants and habitat associations.
  • Assess the relative abundance of each species and inform decisions regarding their national status and conservation importance.
  • Provide information about the occurrence of rare or important species to help protect sites from development or destruction.
  • Provide a communication network and focus for amateur and professional entomologists in Britain and Ireland who are interested in this particular insect group.
Idiocerus herrichi
Above: Idiocerus herrichi. This previously scarce species has become much more common in recent years
Activities

The scheme operates the following:
  • A regular newsletter
  • Periodic field meetings
  • Periodic identification workshops
  • Maintenance of an electronic database of records
  • Publication of distribution maps
  • Identification of specimens
  • Advice on recording and study of the group
field meeting
Above:  Examining Auchenorrhyncha collected at a field meeting
Data sources

Relevant records are derived from a number of different sources:
  • Records submitted by individual recorders
  • Museum collections
  • Published material (short notes containing field records, scientific papers)
  • Site surveys
  • Ecological studies
Current status

The scheme currently holds approximately 60,000 records electronically. It is estimated that a further 20,000 records exist in paper format in notebooks, files and reports which need to be entered manually into the database. The scheme receives approximately 1,000 new records each year, although this is extremely variable. Most recorders now submit their data electronically (via Excel spreadsheets, field-delineated text files etc). 

Future plans

The recording scheme is now firmly established as the primary source of data on the occurrence of Auchenorrhyncha within Britain and Ireland.  Future projects include:
  • Provision of an online recording facility for a group of 25 easily identified species
  • Regular newsletters
  • Revision of the conservation status of all species (in collaboration with JNCC)
  • Accessibility of recording scheme data via the NBN Gateway
  • Publishing a distribution atlas
  • Revision of the taxonomic checklist
  • Identification workshops
  • Field meetings
  • New identification key(s)
  • Publication of an introductory book on general biology, ecology etc.