What is 'wildlife'?

Someone recently posted a picture of a captive European Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo). I questioned whether there was value in recording the presence of out-of-range captive species.
There has been some debate in the thread below the sighting, but it seems worthy of a wider discussion.
To state my position: I don’t think that captive animals should be recorded - unless there is some way of marking the sighting so that it doesn’t appear on subsequent range maps.
The original thread can be seen at Dunrobin Castle, Golspie, 24/5/22 | Observation | UK and Ireland | iSpot Nature
(It is a magnificent photo, by the way, and this is not an attack on the original poster - more of an attempt to see what members think.)

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Just seen this - work beckons but I’ll contribute later.

There’s always been some ambiguity, at least to my knowledge, about iSpot’s primary purpose - is it educational, or a recording project. I’ve seen it as educational in priority.

If strictly a recording project then it would exclude farm animals, pets, zoo and other captive animals, field and allotment crops, cultivated garden plants, park, street and other amenity tree and shrub plantings, amenity wild flower sowings (annual, cornfield, meadow, … mixes), and whatever else has escaped my attention. But there’s still a grey area, with conservation and reclamation plantings/introductions (is any beaver sighting in the UK acceptable?), and unintentional anthopochorous introductions. The BSBI currently seems to be taking a permissive view, especially in some vice-counties, with regards to relicts of cultivation, and even perhaps street and amenity trees. (Personally I’m fairly strict on street and hedgerow trees and shrubs - record them if there are seedlings, saplings or suckers.)

The worst offenders for non-wildlife observations are OU course participants. That this is winked at is evidence that the educational role has priority.

I’ve transgressed a few times. My Crocus project has the aim of illustrating the various types of Crocus which might be encountered “wild”, but I used both naturalised and cultivated plants for the purpose of providing the illustrations. I also once put up an observation of an uncommon mallow (originally introduced by myself) seeding on my allotment.

I had been thinking more of the validity of posting on this site only. The point about having a captive animal added to a distribution record is a good one, though. It’s a different matter if more than one escapes, and they subsequently generate a local population (Edible Dormice, Aesculapian Snakes, various deer, f’rinstance). Not sure where farmed animals fit into this debate, though. And some ‘exotic’ posts are lacking in clarity - not everyone adds good descriptive notes, relying on other users to make sense of the situation.
Garden escape plants are, of course, a different matter - they have frequently established themselves in the wild.
I have a collection of photos of exotics from our nearby zoo (Hamerton), but I haven’t considered posting them here. I have enjoyed other people’s posts, but I agree entirely with the need to state that they are captives - and have some sort of “filtering” to keep them out of the formal records.

As I said in the original thread, I guess it’s really up to the people who set up and run the site what they want it to be. If it is mainly to be for identifying species, then I guess it’s OK to include exotics/escapes. I once saw a laughing kookaburra in a garden in Surrey! But if, as I read somewhere on here, there is talk about putting records into the national database, that does in my mind at least raise questions!

I had a budgerigar (blue morph) pointed out to me on a country lane on Tuesday (18Oct2022).

All the posts so far make really valid points. In particular about the purpose of the iSpot site. I personally use it for both getting help with ID and sharing observations, so some clarity on this would be good.
In terms of the “What is wildlife” question, firstly I have to admit I have both agreed to, and posted, observations that could be classed as non wildlife. My own posts of this kind have mainly been domesticated animals - cows, horses etc, and mostly, though not always, where they’ve been used for grazing purposes to benefit wildlife. Even so, I’ve been in two minds about it and unsure if that’s really what the site should be used for. So, at risk of sounding hypocritical, my personal thoughts are that it might be best not to post captive animals - ie anything not living completely free - or at least as people have suggested, have some way of flagging these. In terms of cultivated plants, perhaps a general steer away from private garden observations unless it’s something that arrives of its own volition might help, eg observations of wild birds/mammals/self seeded wildflowers in the garden would be fine. This might reduce the number of cultivated plant posts but still generate observations of garden escapes/exotic animals out “in the wild”, which can of course be valuable to know. Anyway, these are just my personal views and I’m looking forward to hearing other peoples. I think fundamentally, there are currently lots of blurry lines and an agreed and clear approach would be helpful - particularly for new users.

In answer to What is ispot for; this from the front page. It mentions ‘wildlife’. It also mentions ‘nature’.

Whether you are new to iSpot, an active participant, or a regular visitor Explore, Record, Collaborate and Learn are four themes, we are highlighting, to help you on your iSpot journey and get the most out of your experience.

iSpot (www.iSpotnature.org) is aimed at helping anyone identify anything in nature! It is a citizen science project (i.e. citizen observatory) run by The Open University (OU) that was developed to help everyone learn about and engage with nature. Share and build your wildlife identification skills while monitoring and recording biodiversity.

With due deference JoC, that is still open to interpretation!

I agree you can drive a coach and horses through the front page statement, which I sure is intentionally inclusive. This does not stop The Powers That Be, steering away from or towards observation types.

It could be argued that certain categories of captive animal are not in nature, because they are in captivity. Therefore should not be subject of observations. Escaped animals are a different matter, particularly if they form viable breeding populations, should be observed. Otherwise how can their spread be monitored and possibly removed.

I think cultivated plants in gardens are a grey area, as even though static, they seem remarkabley slippery. After all, many people thought R. ponticum was really good idea, and now there are large areas of it. I avoid cultivated plants in gardens, but beyond the garden is a different matter. Wild plants in gardens are fair game.

As I understand part of the problem was that people thought that Rhododendron ponticum as the rootstock for other rhododendrons was a really good idea; the rootstock took over, and then started seeding around.

Ultimately, I think it is up to the OU to define parameters, if they want to do so.
Personally, I have recorded plants in my garden that I have not introduced. For example, both hemp-agrimony and evening primrose just appeared. I may, in the past, have recorded species that we originally introduced - I suspect I probably did. But I don’t think that that is good practice.
In terms of birds, say, I would only include free-flying birds. It’s a grey area. For example, I’ve seen Harris Hawk flying free in Surrey. As I didn’t photograph it, I wouldn’t think of including it. Birds like Egyptian geese and golden pheasant which are non-native but have established feral populations, I think should be recorded. Ruddy duck is a tricky one. Knowing that recording it is likely to lead to it being killed gives you pause to think.

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Exactly, SB,I mentioned the Front page item it as it gives the rationale, but is still a bit on the vague side.
I made a ‘bird’ obs yesterday. It was an unusual chicken egg. That is certainly not wildlife nor nature; I posted it as I thought it was an interesting biological observation.

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Hemp-agrimony is a wild plant - around here it is a canal specialist, but in lower parts of Cheshire it has a wider ecological amplitude. Evening primroses are more often seen as ruderals than as cultivated plants.
Stuff that has appeared spontaneously in my garden over the years includes cowslip, musk mallow, fox and cubs and peach-leaved bellflower (and several species of Cotoneaster).

Oh dear - I would hate to see the pics of flowers in folks gardens predominate - but then realised that most of my UK observations have been from London Parks.
Then (mea culpa) I have posted a lovely Rooster photographed on the Cape West Coast. It was ‘taken’ by a Rooikat (wild cat). that I would never have been able to photograph.
Have been tagging some alien species in RSA as ‘Naturalized exotics’ which are not assessed for National Red List.
All a grey area for me and thinking
Feral parakeets in Great Britain - Wikipedia.
Then also
Invasive non-native species (UK) – Grey squirrel - Inside Ecology

Wondering !!

One of the official iSpot habitat categories is “Parks and Gardens”.

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Both grey squirrels and rose-ringed (=ring-necked) parakeets have large established feral populations in the UK - so I think it is good to record them. I’m not so sure about escaped lovebirds, budgerigars, Alexandrine parakeets etc. Apparently the Peking robin is beginning to get established now. At what point should one begin!!?

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I think that, on balance, I would rather see someone posting something than not posting at all. If they post something, they are at least showing an interest (or, for S295, an obligation?) and there’s a chance that that interest can be nurtured to the extent that they become active iSpotters. Once they’ve reached that stage the captive species could be gently discouraged but I think this has to be done with a very light touch: why should the learned panel not be asked a genuine question about an unidentified captive species and I’d hate to miss posts like the recent one about an aberrant chicken egg.

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Actually both as a root stock and in its own right. R. ponticum hedges were quite the thing.

I would have no hesitation about recording the observation of a mink. They place far too much pressure on the indigenous wildlife.