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Winter 2010

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Derek's award

The National Biodiversity Network Trust gives an annual Honorary Membership Award to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of biological recording. This year, the Trustees were delighted to honour Barrow resident, Dr Derek Lott.

Jim Munford, Paul Harding, Trevor James and Ian McLean visited Derek at his home on 20 September to give him this special award in person. Many of you will probably know Derek and his passion for entomology, but the reason for his receiving this award is best summarised by the citation written by the Trust's chairman, Trevor James.

Dr Derek A. Lott — proposed Honorary Member of the National Biodiversity Network Trust

There are very few individual naturalists whose datasets have been loaded under their own name on the NBN Gateway — for good, practical reasons, not least being that most have had assistance from various organisations in getting their data to the sort of condition that the Gateway needs. In Derek's case, this was (almost) all his own work, along with the expertise that the subject matter of the dataset required Coleoptera (beetles), and the notoriously difficult Staphylinidae (rove beetles) in particular!

For the NBN, Derek has been a staunch, quiet supporter since its concept was first proposed — not uncritical when that was needed — but one that could be relied upon for sound judgment and good- humoured help when that was needed as well. As such, he represented the Association of Local Government Ecologists (ALGE) and chaired the former Local Records Centre Steering Committee of the NBN from just after its inception in early 2001 to the end of 2003, when the Network was going through its development phase.

But Derek has been much more than this. His involvement with biological recording, the voluntary wildlife sector, and nature conservation has reached into corners that many never hear about. As an example of his breadth of knowledge and abilities, we can cite his publication record — articles about ideal wildlife sites in the Blaby Chronicle (journal of the Blaby District Council in his home county of Leicestershire) on the one hand through to detailed taxonomic studies of obscure Staphylinid species in the genus Acylophorus from sub-Saharan Africa on the other.

Derek has been a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society since the 1980s, and is a very active member of the Amateur Entomologists Society and the British Entomological & Natural History Society. At the local level, he has taken on active roles in the Leicestershire Literary & Philosophical Society and the Loughborough Naturalists Club, to name just two. For many years he was a Keeper of Natural History in the Leicester Museums, Arts & Records Service, until his work taking forward the local records centre functions there led to his being employed as its director when it was established as a separate organisation under the auspices of the Leicestershire County Council's planning department. In 2004, when an earlier round of cuts saw the records centre being re­organised, he opted to go it alone as a consultant entomologist, specialising in the insects of wetland habitats as well as his special area of expertise — the rove beetles.

Derek has been a powerhouse of expertise in areas of conservation related to his pet entomological specialism as well. He was a very active member of ALGE from the 1990s into the 2000s, which led to the production for them, after his departure in 2004 from Leicerstershire ERC, of their highly regarded publication Biodiversity data needs for local authorities and National Park authorities. On similar lines, he produced Guidelines to local BAP groups on the selection of priority habitats for invertebrates — a highly important publication that draws attention to the importance of natural riparian habitat features for a whole host of insects. He also was an active supporter first of the Biology Curators Group and of the National Federation for Biological Recording.

Despite current health problems, Derek has by no means stopped this prodigious output. He has been working on a series of new and desperately needed workable keys to British Staphylinid beetles, which are in process of production by the Field Studies Council and the Royal Entomological Society. His recent supply of a lifetime's recording and collation of data across the UK through the Gateway has typically been carried out without restrictions on their use by others. In this kind of approach to life, Derek has been a source of inspiration and encouragement both to beginners and to his professional colleagues. He richly deserves honorary membership of the NBN Trust.

Trevor J. James Chairman: NFBR