Using HanDbase to record bryophytes

HomeNewsUsing HanDbase to record bryophytes

Most people use the standard BBS recording cards for field recording. A couple of people I know use a dictaphone or similar to record notes as they go along. I have developed a smartphone database which I use all the time. It’s always with me, and I can use it in the rain without it getting soggy! It does take a little getting used to, but I thought that some of you might be interested. You would need to be reasonably comfortable with spreadsheet-style technology, and an understanding of database design would be useful.

My system uses a generic database app called HanDbase which is available for iPhones and Android phones. It is a paid app, but the cost is very reasonable I think. Using this app I have designed a recording database template linked to a taxon database which contains all taxa recognised in the latest UK checklist (and more). My recording database started off just including the species on the standard recording card for mid-Britain, but has evolved to reflect what I typically find. It would be a simple matter to tailor this for different areas.

I create a new database, based on this template, for each monad that I record in – much as you would start a new card. Then I just tick off the species seen, adding extra information such as presence of capsules, gemmae, grid reference, comments etc as necessary. I have created different views of the database so that I can see a list of species recorded, or species that I’ve ticked off but need microscopic confirmation. At the end of the day, I then export a list of species recorded to a .csv file which is in roughly the same format that the standard BBS Excel recording card uses.

Below are a selection of screenshots from my phone showing the app in action. If you would like to know any more, please get in touch at

Claire Halpin, September 2022





Published: 22 September 2022