Field recording and data management

The Marine Nature Conservation Review (MNCR) undertook a programme of field surveys throughout Britain between 1987 and 1998, collecting data suitable to develop the classification. In addition, data were acquired from the published literature and through collaboration with a wide variety of academic, government and other organisations. Comparable data were collected in Ireland through the BioMar project between 1992 and 1996.
The data comprise information on the nature of each site (such as substratum, wave exposure and height or depth surveyed), the type of sampling undertaken, the site's location and the species present (together with an indication of their abundance) within discrete habitats at the site. MNCR field recording techniques are described in Hiscock (1996), with Appendix 8 providing the guidance on how to complete MNCR field recording forms (the forms can be downloaded from here).The terminology relating to field survey methods is described further below, and should help users of the classification interpret the habitat information contained in the biotope descriptions. Procedural Guidelines for a wide range of field sampling techniques are given in the Marine Monitoring Handbook (Davies et al. 2001).
In total, data for over 16,000 sites comprising more than 36,000 habitat records from around Britain and Ireland were collated and entered onto the MNCR database (as described by Hiscock, 1996). The database includes a module which holds definitions of each classification type, linked to a national dictionary of marine species and to the field survey data. The field survey data have been made widely accessible via the National Biodiversity Network and MESH from an MS Access-based 'relational' database, Marine Recorder. The Marine Recorder database application has been specifically developed to accept marine biological data from a wide range of survey techniques, including the data held originally in the MNCR database. The application can be downloaded here, and includes a dictionary of the habitat classification types.