Identification Trainers for the Future
Our work-based training programme is designed to address a critical and growing shortage of wildlife identification and recording skills in the UK.
There has never been a greater need to document, monitor and understand changes in the UK's wildlife. Yet the number of people with the skills to survey and accurately identify species, handle and preserve reference specimens, and share their skills with others is declining.
The training programme involves:
- Fifteen 12-month traineeships, delivered between 2015 and 2018.
- A work-based training programme that provides trainees with the knowledge, confidence and skills to:
- understand and communicate the value of biological recording
- survey and identify a wide range of UK species groups
- train others, in order to help reverse the decline in biological recording
To find out what our trainees are doing and learn more about the programme, follow the ID Trainer's blog hosted by the National Biodiversity Network.
If you have any questions about the training programme, email us.
Applications for the traineeships have now closed.
Meet our trainees
Our first five trainees started in March 2015, followed by our second set of trainees in March 2016 and our third set in March 2017. Find out about them and follow their progress in our blog.
Public engagement is a major component of the traineeship. All trainees have taken part in a range of public facing events including Bioblitz events, Big Nature Day and Science Uncovered.
You can watch all three cohorts discuss the diverse range of wildlife and skills they learnt about on the traineeship in the videos below.
Identification resources by our trainees
During their time with us, trainees produce a range of materials designed to help support naturalists in their own identification work.
The first of these to be published are:
- A multi-access key to the common families of British grasses, developed by Sally Hyslop in conjunction with the Field Studies Council's Tomorrow's Biodiversity project. Read about the development of the key in Sally's blog.
- An aid to identifying 39 orchid species when they are not in flower, developed by Mike Waller. Download A beginner's vegetative guide to orchids of the British Isles PDF (8.8MB).
- An introduction to Blackheath’s clovers and allies: developed by Joseph Beale in conjunction with The Blackheath Society. Joe also ran a guided walk in Blackheath, using this guide to introduce people to clovers and their allies, as well as other wildlife encountered.
- In conjunction with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Chloe Rose developed an easy-to-use pocket sized Shrill Carder Bee Identification Card. This formed part of her pilot study to launch a citizen science project to monitor the distribution and spread of the shrill carder bee. The final project report can be found here. Chloe also ran a bumblebee identification workshop in Brighton.
- A guide to common families of Coleoptera in the British Isles, developed by Katy Potts. Katy also ran a beginners workshop into beetle identification using the workshop space and resources available at the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity. This was a full course of 16 participants and also gave Katy the opportunity to teach what she had learnt on the traineeship to the 2017 cohort of trainees. For this course Katy additionally created a resource to aid with Preparing Coleoptera for Identification.
Steph Skipp - Identification of British Soldier Beetles
Steph is planning to run a day long workshop providing guidance on the identification of British soldier beetles. Steph was inspired by solider beetles following her time spent on her curation placement with the Coleoptera team.
The workshop will include information on when and where it is best to record different species; soldier beetles are very seasonal and some of them are quite regional. She is also considering branching this out into a recording initiative, potentially with a website and a social media presence. Steph is keen for any guidance or ideas so please get in contact if you think you provide any assistance.
Laura Sivess - Multi-access Key to UK Ephemeroptera
Laura is building a multi-access key to the Ephemeroptera of the UK, starting with the larvae. Depending on time constraints she may also tackle the adults too but they are more difficult to ID and so this may be considered less useful/accessible due to the requirement of more specialist equipment.
The key will pull together features from existing keys and combine them in a new format in combination with images of the key features which she will be taking using the photo stacker equipment in the AMC. Laura has decided to create a multi-access key because she thinks multi-access keys have the potential to be more user friendly than dichotomous keys.
Matthew Harrow - Discovering Populations of Salticella fasciata
Matt carried out surveys looking for the rare dune snail-killing fly Salticella fasciata along the South Wales coastline.
In order to complete the surveys he trained volunteers about the species, it’s biology and closely related species. He also provided volunteers with an introduction into surveying for species using a variety of methods and also of assessing habitats based on those findings.
Unfortunately the surveys did not find the target species as an adult. Matt did however collect plenty of other species including a county first with the tachinid: Macquartia dispar. He also collected snails harbouring dipteran larvae which he is currently rearing out. If you want to find out more about Matt’s findings please get in contact.
April Windle - Beginner’s Guide to Lichens
Lichens are currently regarded as one of the more complicated and less accessible groups to study. Their dynamic biology, structural complexity and fluid taxonomy makes them a particularly difficult group of organisms to study.
To address this April will be publishing a freely available beginner’s resource, introducing people to the world of lichens. This step by step guide will take the user through the early stages of lichenology, providing opportunities to develop their knowledge, skillset and confidence.
The document will focus on lichen morphology, biology, ecology and chemistry, alongside a series of tailored activities to complement everything that has been learnt throughout the manual. Some activities will also be assisted by video demonstrations, which will be available via the Museum’s YouTube channel and other media interfaces.
Alex Mills - ‘The Hidden Forests’ Documentary
Alex will be creating a documentary on temperate rainforests in the UK.
The documentary will introduce target species of ferns, mosses and liverworts which are indicative of temperate rainforests in the UK and how to identify them. Alex also aims to include information on how people can get involved with both biological recording and with the conservation of temperate rainforests.
‘The Hidden Forests’ will be filmed between the NHM in London and at a site called Coed Ganllwyd National Nature Reserve. This site is a prime example of a temperate rainforest and is reputed to be the best site in western Europe for Bryophytes. As such it should make for some really exciting filming.
Alex begins filming the project early in 2018 so watch this space!