About the Spider Recording Scheme

The Spider Recording Scheme Newsletter is issued three times a year and contains articles and notes, submitted by recorders on all aspects of the recording of spiders and harvestmen, as well as regular updates on the progress being made in the recording scheme. Since November 2002 the SRS News has been incorporated with the British Arachnological Society Newsletter, but is also available on-line to anyone who is not a member of the Society.

History and progress of the Scheme. The British Arachnological Society link collaborated with the Biological Records Centre to develop a revised Spider Recording Scheme which was launched in April 1987, at the time of the Annual General Meeting of the British Arachnological Society, and the remarkable enthusiasm and energy of the late Clifford Smith was instrumental in encouraging the active support of arachnologists and increasing the numbers of recorders. This replaced a scheme that was started in 1964 but which had fallen into abeyance. In 2002 the Provisional Atlas of Spiders of Britain link was published, based on data recorded and submitted to the scheme to the end of 2000. This provides a very great amount of new information on every British species. The 647 species accounts were written by volunteer authors, without which the text could not have been produced in the timescale available. There are now currently at least 680 species of spider recorded in Britain, increased from 645 British species in the Araneae check list published in 2000 by Merrett & Murphy.

The BAS Council agreed that after 5 years it would be worth updating the maps, and a deadline of the end of 2005 was set for the receipt of new records. These updated maps are now available individually via the British Arachnological Society website link, but the latest maps are available on this website find out more. If you know of records not shown on these maps, then it is probably because they have not been submitted to the recording scheme. Please provide us with your records if you have not already done so - the maps can only be as up-to-date and comprehensive as the data provided!  Phase 2 of the Scheme (post provisional atlas) have placed much greater emphasis on the recording of autecological, phenological and habitat management information.

Organisation of the Scheme. The British Arachnological Society link administers the scheme. Membership of the British Arachnological Society is not essential for a recorder in the scheme, but is strongly recommended. There is a National Organiser who is supported by the British Arachnological Society and a number of Area Organisers, each of whom is responsible for one or more vice counties.

Recording. Records from an area covered by an Area Organiser are sent to him/her on a Spider Record Card (RA65) or if possible, in computerised format. MapMate link is a popular biological recording and mapping software package which is fully compliant with our phase 2 data requirements, and we strongly recommend its use to the recording and submission of data to the Recording Scheme. Members of the British Arachnological Society may purchase a copy of the software at reduced cost and receive free Online Support and free Product Updates funded by the Society for as long as they remain members of the Society. Various on-line Mapmate tutorials are available e.g. by Martin Harvey link and BSBI link. The Essex Field Club link also regularly run MapMate training courses, usually in the spring or autumn, check regularly to see if courses are to be run and how to book.

Data may also be provided as an Excel file in suitable format, but this is not a preferred route, because of the complications this causes in ensuring consistency, validation and in particular the recording of phase 2 autecological information, a priority for the Recording Scheme and one of the reasons our data are so useful. Please consult us about appropriate formats prior to submission, and a template Excel file can be made available.

Verification and validation. Computerised data or record cards should be sent to the County/Area Organiser. After checking, computerised data and record cards are forwarded to the National Organiser. A committee of experienced arachnologists in the British Arachnological Society may decide whether further verification is required, and then these records are added to the national dataset. For any area not covered by the network of Area Organisers records should be sent directly to the National Organiser Peter Harvey, 32 Lodge Lane, Grays, Essex RM16 2YP email: contact