Sunday, 20 March 2011


Vigie-Nature is the French National Natural History Museum's citizen science naturewatch scheme. It allows anyone with an interest in monitoring their garden biodiversity to contribute to a national programme of data collection and analysis. They also co-ordinate a variety of other national biodiversity monitoring projects, such as the butterfly monitoring scheme I have written about before, and there are projects covering birds, amphibians and bats as well as wildflowers and pollinating insects.

To join you click inscription on the Vigie-Nature recording site, create a user name and submit it. The museum will then send you a password (be patient - it took them a week to get back to me) and ask you to answer a few questions to describe the garden you are registering and from which you will be sending your sightings. Your records should be entered online at the end of each month.

Early-nesting Bumblebee Bombus pratorum, happily rummaging
amongst the violets by the river earlier this month.
You have a choice of groups you can monitor - snails (Opération escargots), butterflies (Observatoire des papillons des jardins), bumblebees (Opérations bourdons) and beetles (Enquête coléoptères). I have chosen to monitor the three insect groups, but not snails. That's just on the grounds that I don't know enough about snails, and haven't got time to learn.

The species they are monitoring are limited to those already known to frequent gardens, and the information provided to help you identify any species you are not familiar with is excellent. They are very keen to get English speakers involved and have produced an English language poster to explain the project.

A Rose Chafer Cetonia aurata (la Cétoine dorée) emerging
from underground in the potager a couple of days ago.
The museum has several partners which host the information about the various groups to be monitored. Snails, garden butterflies and beetles are all under the wing of Noé Conservation, and they have produced some excellent pages (e.g. beetles) on how to identify the different species in each of these groups. The Observatoire des Bourdons, on the other hand, is run for the museum by GAE.

Each of these garden biodiversity monitoring schemes can take as little as half an hour a month to be involved in, so if you would like to give it a go, please don't hesitate to register, and get in touch with me if you are struggling with anything. The museum and their partners have created a rather confusing matrix of information about the scheme, but don't let that put you off. Much of the information is repeated on more than one site, and I am happy to talk you through it if you get lost.



GaynorB said...

Susan, this sounds like an interesting and very worthwhile project to become involved with.
Alas we are not in France enough at present to be able to contribute, but I'll look at more of the links later.

Good luck with the project.

Tim said...

Very interesting... will definately join... is our meadow small enough?

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