On Friday I returned to Wollaton Hall to collect some information from Sheila (Keeper of Biology), and to meet Dave, the Botanical Recorder for Nottinghamshire who has been recording the distribution of plants in the county for forty years.
Sheila provided me with some information from her own database of recorded moth sightings, picking out a number of moths which are new to Nottinghamshire, the UK distribution of which may be being influenced by climatic change (although habitat changes may be far more influential). These include the Privet Hawk-moth, Pine Hawk-moth and Pale Pinion. I’m hoping to do some more research on these species and to get in touch with groups like Butterfly Conservation. Coincidently today marks the start of the Big Butterfly Count, a new nationwide survey of butterflies http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/
Dave identified some plant species which appear to moving north-west, increasing their distribution in the county, possibly as the climate warms (Bristly Ox-Tongue, Soft-Shied Fern, Prickly lettuce and Great Lettuce). Dave also pointed me towards the distribution maps available on the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) atlas (http://www.bsbimaps.org.uk/atlas/main.php). The Nottinghamshire Biological and Geological Records Centre (based at Wollaton Hall) also holds a number of historical flora of Nottinghamshire by Deering (1738), Ordoyno (1807), Howitt (1839) and Carr (manuscript), but it would be very difficult to draw make any reliable comparisons owing to the use of poorly defined classifications like ‘rare’ and ‘frequent’, and the differing forms and frequency of surveys. Other counties in the region hold similar records, and there are other interest groups like the nottingham bird-watchers who I am intending to get in touch with.
This visit showed how contemporary collections focus far more on data as opposed to specimen collection. This is something that I would like to follow up, thinking about how these new collections of data might be presented in the museum.