BioScribe: A Biotope Decision Support Tool


The BioScribe tool has been removed from the JNCC website because updates to the species dictionary in Marine Recorder mean it is no longer possible to match all species to relevant biotopes. Further developments planned for the Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland would also render the tool ineffective. Although the BioScribe tool is a useful aid for identifying potential biotopes, it does have certain limitations. As stated in associated guidance, “BioScribe has been designed for end users who are experienced in matching biotopes to field survey data. It was not designed to select a single biotope, but to make the process of identifying potential matches faster and more objective.” The outputs from BioScribe should not be selected without being considered further based on an in-depth knowledge of the classification. For BioScribe tool to continue to be functional significant updates would need to be undertaken, initially to make it compatible with the new species dictionary, and longer term to make it compatible with any revisions made to the classification. Considering there are inherent limitations to the tool, and that it is not currently being utilised by the majority of classification users, the resources will not be available to further develop BioScribe. It may be considered useful to update or develop a similar tool in the future but there are currently no plans to do so.

A biotope decision support tool, called BioScribe, could previously be downloaded from the JNCC website. The BioScribe tool matched the species list from a sample to the biological communities usually recorded with potential biotope matches. The tool was part of a larger project entitled “Redefining biotopes at a regional scale” (MEPF project number P09/P93), which aims to provide a standard methodology for defining potential new habitats or regional variants from current survey data requirements, and as part of the process, submit new potential biotope classifications for offshore sand-gravel habitats to JNCC. BioScribe was designed by Emu Ltd  through a project funded by the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund’s Marine Environmental Protection Fund and the software has been developed by the Geodata Institute in Southampton.