Following the BSBI's lead: the influence of the Atlas of the British flora, 1962-2012

Preston, C.D.. 2013 Following the BSBI's lead: the influence of the Atlas of the British flora, 1962-2012. New Journal of Botany, 3 (1). 2-14.

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A formal proposal to map the vascular plants of Britain and Ireland (1950) led to the BSBI Maps Scheme (1954) and thence to the publication of the Atlas of the British flora (1962). The distinctive features of the Atlas were grid-based mapping, the comprehensive coverage of all native and many alien species and of almost all Ordnance Survey 10×10 km squares, the collection of records by volunteers and the use of innovative mapping technology. The Maps Scheme personnel and machinery were transferred to the newly formed Biological Records Centre in 1964. The Atlas methods (with the frequent exception of the mapping technology) were soon taken up for the mapping of both plants and animals, especially birds, at both national and regional levels, particularly in Europe and North America. The details of the story are influenced by the popularity of a taxonomic group, the activities of a few highly motivated individuals and the availability of infrastructures to support recording and publishing. In Britain, maps of over 10 000 taxa are now available at the national scale in published atlases (with many more on the NBN Gateway) and the Atlas methodology reinvigorated county Floras. Although the motives for launching the Maps Scheme were scientific, atlas recording had little impact on academic science until the computer technology became available to create and analyse large electronic datasets. By contrast there was an immediate, although unanticipated, impact on conservation, with the 1962 Atlas leading directly to the first British Red Data Book.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 1 - Observations, Patterns, and Predictions for Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 2042-3489
Additional Keywords: phytogeography, county flora, distribution, grid square, standard sampling, conservation, recording
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 25 Jun 2013 13:54 +0 (UTC)

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