Online Recording


If you submit records to iRecord, iNaturalist or any other app, or directly to your Local Records Centre or the NBN Gateway, they WILL NOT come to the BLS for verification and will not be included in the our database or distribution maps.

We are keen to introduce online recording of lichens, in a way that can feed records directly into the BLS database, and are actively looking into the options for this, but in the meantime all lichen recorders should submit records to us directly, by email using the standard spreadsheet. This spreadsheet can handle the large volumes of records produced by professional and site surveyors, but it is also a quick and easy way to keep occasional and casual records and we would especially encourage people new to lichen recording to give it a try. 

Individual records of interest can be submitted by email to without the spreadsheet,  but please be sure to include as much information on the location, position and substrate as possible, if possible with a photo.


iRecord and iNaturalist

Records submitted to these, or other apps, will NOT find their way to the BLS, so please submit them to us directly as well.

These apps are increasingly popular with amateur recorders, and in time we would hope to be able to take records from them into our database, but at present we simply don't have the resources to do this. 

If anyone would like to volunteer to take on the verification and reformatting of these records we would love to hear from you! 

Using iRecord for lichens

Records submitted to iRecord are first validated using the NBN Record Cleaner rulesets, an automated check for identification difficulty and geographic range, and then any records that are flagged up as needed further checking then have to be reviewed by a regional or national expert. Finally they have to be converted to the more detailed standard format used in our database. This is a significant task if we are to do it properly, otherwise we end up with records that can be shown on distribution maps but lack much of the detail that we need to verify them, and that people using our data find so useful. There is a lichen form in iRecord which captures more of this detail than the standard form, but even when this is used the reformatting is a significant task and at present the BLS cannot take records from iRecord

Using the iRecord Lichen Recording Activity

To set it up:

1. Register with iRecord if you have not already done so.

2. Login to iRecord and go to Activities, on the Record menu. Browse all activities and select the BLS Lichen Records activity.

Once the activity is on your list, this is how to use it:

1. Login, go to Activities, and in the BLS activity Click on Enter lichen records to start entering records.

2. Enter the Date of recording. This can be done by clicking on the calendar. Your name will be shown automatically as the Recorder but this can be changed if you are inputting records for someone else.

3. Go to Where was it? to enter the location details. A location name is required, then the grid reference can either be entered or you can zoom into the map and click on the appropriate square. Please ensure that this square covers all the records to be entered. If you found something interesting on a particular tree or stone this should be entered separately with the precise grid reference for that species. You can also enter a comment and habitat information using a standard two part classification, just select the entries from the drop down lists.

4. Return to What did you see? to enter the species list.

  • Start typing the scientific name and select from the suggestions.
  • Substrate Code - this is one or a combination of Bry – bryicolous (on mosses or liverworts), Cort – corticolous (on tree bark), Fol – Folicolous (on leaves), Lic – lichenicolous (on another lichen), Lig – lignicolous (on wood), Sax – saxicolous (on stone), Terr – terricolous (on soil). Select from the drop down list.
  • Substrate Description - this is what the lichen was growing on, such as oak, ash, sandstone, granite, soil. For lichenicolous fungi it would be the lichen species on which it was growing. Standard codes (such as Q for Quercus, Fx for ash) can be used, or, and this saves us a lot of work when it comes to importing the records, the BLS scale habitat codes can be used (e.g. CQ,CFx for Quercus and Fraxinus, just as in the spreadsheet). Lists of both these codes are included in the BLS Recording Guidelines on the Downloads page.
  • Position - the position on the tree or within the site, such as branch, trunk, outcrop, cliff, building, roof, wall, gravestone. Again the standard scale habitat codes can be used if you know them and this will help the BLS greatly.
Additional information can be entered by clicking on the + sign:
  • Abundance - using the DAFOR scale, select from the drop-down list.
  • Specimen - select if you have kept a specimen. We may ask to see it if needed to confirm your identification.
  • Identifier - the determiner, if not yourself.
  • Comments - any comments about this particular species record, such as chemical tests and whether it was fertile.
  • Photo - a photo may be uploaded here.

5. Click Submit to save your records to iRecord.

6. You will then be able to Explore them online through iRecord, Edit them to add further information, and Download them as a spreadsheet or to Google Maps. That spreadsheet could be used as the basis for transferring the data to the BLS spreadsheet for submission to our database.

iRecord verification

Before your records are downloaded to the BLS database they have to be verified online by an expert. This section describes the process, but the BLS does not currently have the resources to do this. 

 The first stage of this verification is done automatically, checking that the species is relatively easy to identify (identification level 1 or 2) and that it is within its expected geographical range. This check uses the rulesets developed by the BLS in 2014 for the NBN Record Cleaner, there are no automatic checks for more recent additions to the British list. Any records not satisfying the automated check (identification levels 3, 4 or 5, or outside expected range) are highlighted to the verifier as needing further investigation. If you have uploaded a photo that may help but usually the verifier would have to contact you for further details or a specimen.


Using iNaturalist for lichens

This app is easy to use and has the advantage that it often gets a quick response from a verifier, but that verifier may not be a lichen expert and the identifications can't always be trusted. The BLS cannot, at present, verify records submitted to iNaturalist and we cannot take them into our database.