Friday, October 04, 2013

A Local Biodiversity Study

One of the projects I've been aching to do for a long time is a simple species list of all the various plants and animals that I find on our 10 acres, preferably with notes as to when I've seen them, whether they have come in naturally or I've introduced them, whether they are native, and so forth.  For plants, I consider this a personal "Accession Record".  For animals?  Just a "Biodiversity Record", I guess.

I've tried several times to initiate this project, first on paper, then with an open source database, then on 3X5 index cards - but each time my platform became unwieldy quite rapidly.

I'm trying again, but this time I'm feeling much more optimistic:  I've finally spent the money to get Access, a database I've successfully used before to follow complicated lists of plant material, when I kept the worked on the plant sale team for Mobile Botanical Gardens.  It's going to take an incredibly long time to input 7 years of species data, but I'm going to keep plugging away at it to the best of my ability.  Who knows?  When I'm done, this might actually come in useful for some graduate student somewhere!

Right now I'm trying to decide if I want to include all life forms in one big database, with separate tables for plants, vertebrates, insects, etc.,  or if I want to have a separate database for each major category I plan to keep track of.  Any suggestions from those of you who have attempted something of this sort?

To make this database doubly useful, I'm going back through my photos to organize and edit them in conjunction with my species' lists.  That, in itself, is a huge project, but after transferring my data 3 full times over the summer (as I attempted to upgrade to a new computer and then dealt with my initial lemon) I've lost all of the organizational links to my photos and I have to recreate the photo organization system anyway.  It seems like a good time to weed out less than optimal photos, finalize species identifications as much as possible, and do a bit of basic coordination between the photos and the biodiversity database.

It's rather fun to be going back through my old photos so carefully.  I'm finding "gems" that I forgot I had seen in the yard, like this Cocklebur Weevil on hedge parsley.  I haven't seen any examples of this species recently and I had forgotten I had noted this one in the yard, about a year after we first moved in.

Do you keep a species list for your yard or garden?  If so, what do you keep track of?  I'd love to hear about other people's experience doing this, personally or professionally.  Maybe I can avoid any more costly, time-consuming mistakes!

1 comment:

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Good luck! I have my small database for plants that I did sort by trees, shrubs, perennials, etc.
I've never thought about tracking the creatures too.