The six million record milestone was reached with an update to the Wasps of Ireland dataset. The Wasps of Ireland dataset is a recently created collection of wasp records from across Ireland. Before its creation, nearly none of the existing wasp records had ever been digitized and mapped, so this was an important step in providing the foundations for conserving wasp species in Ireland. The dataset currently contains 3,878 records spanning 99 different species and is being continually updated as new records are submitted by our recorders. The Wasp dataset also incorporates a survey of Spider Hunting Wasps compiled by Dr Aidan O’Hanlon. There are 851 records in this survey, with data feeding in from various sources including field observations, research in museums and records submitted through Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
Later this year, a new Ants of Ireland dataset will also be created, so for the first time there will be dedicated species information pages and distribution maps for wasps and ants on the National Biodiversity Data Centre website. The two new datasets are intended for use in drawing up the first conservation ‘Red List’ for wasps and ants in Ireland, which will be a significant step in aiding their conservation.
Publishing the dataset through Biodiversity Maps brings the added value that Wasp data can now be viewed in association with other species data, and it is freely available to be used in decision-making.
The Biodiversity Maps dedicated website (pictured) can be viewed here.
Biodiversity Maps is a national data and mapping portal that provides information on what species occur in Ireland and how they are distributed. It also serves as a platform for publishing of habitat and other biodiversity-relevant GIS layers. It is used by national experts, researchers, Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations to publish datasets thereby pooling knowledge on Ireland’s biodiversity. These data are then easily accessible to inform conservation management, contribute to planning, provide a resource for researchers, and as a source of information for anyone to access about what biodiversity can be found in their locality.
At the basic level, Biodiversity Maps allows anyone to have access to what is known about the biodiversity in their locality. Querying the maps provides insights about the biodiversity characteristics of an area including any special features such as the distribution of species that are only found in that region. Knowing what species are special to an area greatly enhances the biodiversity experience at the local level and makes engagement with biodiversity more accessible. How species are distributed across the country, and the reasons for these distributions are a fascinating area of study.
Having easy access to empirical data about what species occur in an area is essential information to ensure the needs of biodiversity are addressed when decisions are being made, which is ultimately what is needed if we are to conserve biodiversity. This could relate specifically to decision-making around planning for example, but data is needed to inform all kinds of countryside management decisions that impact on biodiversity. Clearly the presence of threatened or protected species in an area is important information to access but knowing where species of local importance are to be found is also needed. As a nation, if we are to really address the biodiversity crisis and take action for biodiversity at the national, regional and local levels then availability of data is essential. Biodiversity Maps is the tool to allow that to happen and this was the justification for why the Heritage Council and NPWS provided the funding for its development.
Biodiversity Maps is also an important resource to support biodiversity research. Any data published on Biodiversity Maps as open licensed data is available to download and use in research, subject to the providers of the data being acknowledged. These data area also automatically published to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility’s data portal, ensuring that Irish data contributes to international research and policy initiatives.
The National Biodiversity Data Centre has developed Biodiversity Maps as a shared service for partner organisations to publish and manage their data, and to showcase what is known about biodiversity in Ireland. Biodiversity Maps has grown into an important national resource that supports the implementation of biodiversity policy in Ireland. But there are ever increasing data needs as more policies are developed to address the climate and biodiversity emergency, particularly in light of the emerging 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan. The hope is that this system will develop further over the coming years to publish more and different types of biodiversity relevant data to grow the national platform to meet these policy needs.
For more information about Biodiversity Maps contact: Michelle Judge (Data Manager) at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Wasps of Ireland dataset contact: Owen Beckett (Research Officer) at: email@example.com