Species-level taxonomy

Susan Davis made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to learn about Natural England's approach to species-level taxonomy.

Please could you tell me, for each taxonomic group which it works with, what approach Natural England uses to ensure that the species-level taxonomy it uses for that group is up-to-date and accurate? How, for example, do you ensure that appropriate, consistent and current species concepts or criteria are applied within and between groups, and how do you ensure that individual changes proposed in the scientific literature are evaluated, and if appropriate, adopted?
What processes and information sources are used to support these approaches, what advisory bodies does Natural England use for this, and are changes adopted on a periodic or a rolling basis?

Thank you

Dear Sir or Madam,

Apologies - my last request should have referred to CCW and not Natural England - I am asking the same request of each of the three countries agencies and hit my enter key too quickly!

Susan Davis

Dear Sir or Madam,

I appear to be overdue a response to my request for information on CCW's approach to species-level taxonomy; under the Freedom of Information Act, a reply should have been received by 23 October.

Please could you investigate why no reply has been received, and provide me with a revised date by which you will be able to reply.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Davis

Donna Muirhead,

Dear Susan,

I have been sent your e-mail from our enquiry office.
We have search our e-mail system for your original request and it
doesn't seem as CCW have received it.

Would it be possible for you to re-send it to me so that I could deal
with it.

Regards
Donna Muirhead

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

09:48 >>>
Dear Sir or Madam,

I appear to be overdue a response to my request for information
on
CCW's approach to species-level taxonomy; under the Freedom of
Information Act, a reply should have been received by 23 October.

Please could you investigate why no reply has been received, and
provide me with a revised date by which you will be able to
reply.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Davis

Donna Muirhead
Swyddog Mynediad i Wybodaeth/Access to Information Officer
Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru/Countryside Council for Wales
Maes y Ffynnon
Penrhosgarnedd
Bangor
Gwynedd
LL57 2DW
Ffôn/Tel: 01248387219/0845 1306229
E-bost/E-mail: [email address]

Dear Donna,

Thanks for your email.

My request is as follows:

I would like to learn about CCW's approach to species-level taxonomy.

Please could you tell me, for each taxonomic group which it works with, what approach CCW uses to ensure that the species-level taxonomy it uses for that group is up-to-date and accurate? How, for example, do you ensure that appropriate, consistent and current species concepts or criteria are applied within and between groups, and how do you ensure that individual
changes proposed in the scientific literature are evaluated, and if appropriate, adopted? What processes and information sources are used to support these approaches, what advisory bodies does CCW use for this, and are changes adopted on a periodic or a
rolling basis?

Yours

Susan

Dear Donna,

Did you receive my reply to your email of 27 October?

Thanks,

Susan

Donna Muirhead,

Dear Susan,

I sent your question to our species team leader Liz Howe, Liz's
response is below in italics.

The question of keeping up to date with taxonomic changes is a
pertinent one.
Of course the answer is varied depending on the species group. For
example,for invertebrates, Mike and Adrian review all the relevant
literature as it comes out- they have a huge 'end note' bibliography.
All of their recording of data is done through the Recorder database.
This provides standard 'dictionaries' for all taxa- it is also used by
the NBN- which allows species to be searched for on their current names
and on old ones.

There are a lot of changes in lower and vascular plants- we would refer
to the relevant published texts as the standard- so the current floras
coming out by Snell are the new standard for vascular plants, but they
are not all out yet- we also use The 'new flora of the british isles'
produced by Stace as a standard.

For lower plants mosses and liverworts are fairly stable- there are
standard British floras and new names/sysonyms and new species get
published in the journals- often work by our own staff like Tim and Sam-
and these are used. Lichens change a lot too as do fungi- especially
when the geneticists start work. Again we refer to the checklists and
the NBN/Recorder dictionaries

A few changes have occurred in the reptiles and amphibians recently-
these have been incorporated into the new BAP and s42 lists- again
standard lists are produced. Mammals have just had a new handbook
published which I imagine will have all the latest taxonomy in it.

I don't know if this answers your question.
Cheers
Donna

Donna Muirhead
Swyddog Mynediad i Wybodaeth/Access to Information Officer
Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru/Countryside Council for Wales
Maes y Ffynnon
Penrhosgarnedd
Bangor
Gwynedd
LL57 2DW
Ffôn/Tel: 01248387219/0845 1306229
E-bost/E-mail: [email address]

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Donna,

Thank you for your email - this is a good beginning towards an answer. I would appreciate it if Liz could find the time to answer more comprehensively. Don't worry about missing the original deadline - I would much prefer a delayed detailed answer than an on-time partial one.

If Liz would like some clarification of the kinds of information I'm after, I'm happy to provide that. If you could let me know whether you are treating this as an FOI or an EIR request that would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Susan Davis

Donna Muirhead,

Dear Susan,

This is not an FOI and I will not be logging it, because you are only
asking questions and not complex recorded information which we may or
may not hold.
It would be an idea if you could contact LIZ direct.
[email address]

Hope this helps.
Regards
Donna

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Donna,

Thanks for your reply. Having checked the Office of the Information Commissioner's booklet "Hints for Practitioners handling FOI/EIR requests", I realise that I have not formulated my request in a way which requires it to be treated as either an FOI or EIR request. For that I apologise: I'm relatively new to such requests and am not an expert.

I understand from Section 7 of the booklet that public bodies "should provide the requestor with advice and assistance so that they may understand what information is held and could be requested". Would either you or Liz be willing to advise me on how to formulate my request appropriately?

Yours sincerely,

Susan Davis

Donna Muirhead,

Susan,

As this is not an FOI/EIR the legislation or best practice booklets does not come into play.
CCW are more than happy to help you resolve your enquiry.

If is was and FOI/EIR the best advice and assistance I can give you under section 9 is to get in touch with Liz to discuss your needs to wether we have information that would be of use to you?

I have not interpreted your enquiry as being a request for recorded information which CCW holds.

I have interpreted your enquiry as general because you asked questions eg;
Please could you tell me, for each taxonomic .........?
How, for example, do you ensure that appropriate, consistent .......?
What processes and information ....................?

This as mentioned above is not request for recorded information. I hope this has helped you understand why I do not think this is a FOI request.

Liz is on A/L until Monday, I do urge you to e-mail her so you can help each other, she can tell you what information if any is available, if CCW has recorded information that you require then I will evaluate the situation.

I hope this appropriate for you?

Kind Regards
Donna

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Donna,

Thank you for your further reply.

I agree with you that I am more likely to resolve my enquiry by dealing direct with Liz. Please could you forward this email to her with a request for her to make contact.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Davis

Dear Susan
perhaps you could send me your phone number so we can discuss your queries directly
best wishes
Liz

Dear Liz,

Thanks for your reply. I'm really sorry but I'm without a phone at the moment - my phone company are working on restoring service but I don't know when it'll be back - it's terribly frustrating, as you can imagine! I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about my query by email, though.

Sorry for the inconvenience,

Susan

Dear Susan
how frustrating. I was unsure what further information you wanted after Donna's reply- perhaps you could clarify.

cheers
Liz

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Liz,

No problem. Here are some areas which I'm hoping you can expand on or clarify:

a) there seem to be some taxonomic groups which are missing from your list - I couldn't see any mention of birds or fish, for example

b) you say that the approach varies between species group, which is interesting. Am I correct in inferring that CCW doesn't have an overarching policy in this area?

c) other organisations I've asked this of seem to adopt one of two approaches - either they adopt the NBN Dictionary, in which case they do not undertake revisions to their working taxa lists themselves, or they have a standard process used across all species groups. Am I correct in thinking that CCW doesn't adopt standardised processes for its work in this area? Or are some aspects subject to standard processes and others not? What factors are used in deciding which approach to adopt for each taxonomic group, or is it very much up to the individual specialist concerned to adopt the approach they feel is appropriate?

d) For those groups where you base your approach on a standard work, could you let me know the name and edition of the work? For these groups, do you have any policies or processes in place to assess when these works become out of date, or is this left to the individual specialist to bring up when he/she feels it is appropriate to do so?

If you were able to provide more details around these areas, that would be extremely helpful to me in enabling me to understand how you approach things.

Best wishes,

Susan Davis

Donna Muirhead,

Dear Susan,
Please see attached a response to your recent e-mail to Liz, CCW's response is in BOLD

a) there seem to be some taxonomic groups which are missing from
your list - I couldn't see any mention of birds or fish, for
example.
The groups listed in the previous response were given as examples.

b) you say that the approach varies between species group, which is
interesting. Am I correct in inferring that CCW doesn't have an
overarching policy in this area?

CCW does not have a policy, because taxonomy work proceeds at different rates, some group are more stable than others.

c) other organisations I've asked this of seem to adopt one of two
approaches - either they adopt the NBN Dictionary, in which case
they do not undertake revisions to their working taxa lists
themselves, or they have a standard process used across all species
groups. Am I correct in thinking that CCW doesn't adopt
standardised processes for its work in this area? Or are some
aspects subject to standard processes and others not?

As previously mentioned CCW uses the NBN and recorder species list for all taxonomic groups.
The other references previously noted eg; Snell and Stace are often the sources of changes to the NBN/Recorder lists, as are scientific papers. Changes due to the latter are incorporated in NBN/Recorder on a rolling programme of updates.
CCW does not have a policy to cover taxonomic issues.

What factors are used in deciding which approach to adopt for each taxonomic
group, or is it very much up to the individual specialist concerned
to adopt the approach they feel is appropriate?

d) For those groups where you base your approach on a standard
work, could you let me know the name and edition of the work? For
these groups, do you have any policies or processes in place to
assess when these works become out of date, or is this left to the
individual specialist to bring up when he/she feels it is
appropriate to do so?

It is part of the specialists and other staff's role to use their knowledge and expertise to keep up to date with the most recent taxonomic changes and apply them where appropriate. We do not have a policy to cover taxonomic issues.

I hope this helps you understand the way CCW works in reference to this subject.
Kind Regards
Donna

Dear Donna,

Thank you very much for this reply, which gives me a much clearer picture of how CCW works in relation to taxonomic matters. Please pass my thanks on to Liz for taking the time to clarify things.

Yours sincerely,

Susan Davis