Biological Records Centre

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Biological Records Centre
Formation1964; 59 years ago (1964)
Legal statusUnit within the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Maclean Building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB
United Kingdom
Dr David Roy
AffiliationsCentre for Ecology and Hydrology

The Biological Records Centre (BRC) established in 1964, is a national focus in the UK for terrestrial and fresh water species recording.[1]

The term "biological records centre" is also used in the context of local centres, now frequently referred to as "local environmental records centres" (LERCs).


The Biological Records Centre (BRC) was set up in 1964 by the Nature Conservancy (UK) at its recently opened Monks Wood Experimental Station near Huntingdon.[1] BRC developed from the Atlas of the British Flora project of the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) to map the distribution of British (and Irish) flowering plants,[2][3] which had established basic principles for biological recording in the UK. The former BSBI project leader, Franklyn Perring, established BRC with the project's original data and data processing equipment.


As part of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), BRC provides a focus for the collation, management, dissemination and interpretation of species observations (biological records).[4] BRC is now based at UKCEH's Wallingford site, near Oxford. Most records are collected by volunteer recording schemes and societies, which are integral to the work of BRC.[5] These activities are supported through a long-term funding partnership between the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which is now part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).


Together with more than 80 recording schemes and societies,[6] BRC supports biological recording for a wide range of plant and animal groups.[1] BRC helps the recording community to publish atlases,[7] datasets[8] and other online resources, providing information for research, policy and the conservation of wildlife. Through the use of technology BRC helps to harness the enthusiasm and knowledge of naturalists and to enable them to collate and analyse their records. To celebrate the BRC's 50th Anniversary, a special issue of the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society was published with 23 research and review articles covering the centre's work.[9]

In addition to its work with recording schemes and societies, BRC has played a key role in the greater integration of biological recording activities in the UK, most recently through the National Biodiversity Network (NBN). BRC helped to found the National Federation for Biological Recording (NFBR) in 1986 and carried out much of the survey and analysis for the report of the Coordinating Commission for Biological Recording (CCBR) published in 1995,[10] both of which helped shape the future of biological recording in the UK.

Local biological records centres[edit]

A network of local biological records centres or local environmental records centres (usually abbreviated to BRC, LRC or LERC,) covers most areas of the UK. All local centres are entirely independent of the Biological Records Centre. The first such local centre was the Natural History Record Bureau at what is now Tullie House Museum in Carlisle which opened in 1902.[11] As with many LERCs it grew out of the biological recording work of the local natural history society.[12] LERCs have a complementary role to BRC and recording schemes as systems "for collating biological data from a wide range of sources (including organisations and individuals), for ensuring that data are properly validated and catalogued, and for providing access to them, thereby acting as a focus for biological information."[13] Local Environmental Records Centres are non-profit, partnership-led organisations and typically organised on a county or multi-county basis. Increasingly they are becoming better networked through the activities of the Association of Local Environmental Records Centres, the National Biodiversity Network, Natural England, The Wildlife Trusts partnership and NFBR, which became the National Forum for Biological Recording in 2013. rECOrd is an example of a Local Environmental Records Centre.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Roy, Helen E.; Preston, Christopher D.; Roy, David B. (July 2015). "Fifty years of the Biological Records Centre". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 115 (3): 469–474. doi:10.1111/bij.12575.
  2. ^ Perring, Franklyn; Walters, Max (1993). Atlas of the British flora (3. ed., repr. ed.). [London]: Botanical Society of the British Isles. ISBN 978-0-901158-19-2.
  3. ^ Preston, Christopher D. (April 2013). "Following the BSBI's lead: the influence of the Atlas of the British flora, 1962-2012" (PDF). New Journal of Botany. 3 (1): 2–14. doi:10.1179/2042349713Y.0000000020. S2CID 55694686.
  4. ^ Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (2015-11-27). "Biological Records Centre". Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  5. ^ Pocock, Michael J. O.; Roy, Helen E.; Preston, Chris D.; Roy, David B. (July 2015). "The Biological Records Centre: a pioneer of citizen science". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 115 (3): 475–493. doi:10.1111/bij.12548.
  6. ^ "Biological Records Centre - Recording Schemes". Biological Records Centre. Retrieved 2013-09-19.
  7. ^ Biological Records Centre. "Atlases". Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  8. ^ Biological Records Centre. "Datasets". Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  9. ^ Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 115 (3), Pages 469–784. July 2015.
  10. ^ Burnett, J., Copp, C., Harding, P. (1995) Biological Recording in the United Kingdom Present practice and future development Summary Report, Coordinating Commission for Biological Recording available from download from Natural Environment Research Council
  11. ^ The Natural History Record Bureau at the Carlisle Museum, The Museums Journal 10 (6). December 1910.
  12. ^ "History | CBDC". Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre, Tullie House Museum. Accessed 2013-09-19.
  13. ^ Running a Local Record Centre, The Wildlife Trusts/NBN. 2001.

External links[edit]