Identification Trainers for the Future

Our work-based training programme is designed to address a critical and growing shortage of wildlife identification and recording skills in the UK.

There has never been a greater need to document, monitor and understand changes in the UK's wildlife. Yet the number of people with the skills to survey and accurately identify species, handle and preserve reference specimens, and share their skills with others is declining.

The training programme involves:

  • Fifteen 12-month traineeships, delivered between 2015 and 2018. 
  • A work-based training programme that provides trainees with the knowledge, confidence and skills to:
    • understand and communicate the value of biological recording
    • survey and identify a wide range of UK species groups
    • train others, in order to help reverse the decline in biological recording

To find out what our trainees are doing and learn more about the programme, follow the ID Trainer's blog hosted by the National Biodiversity Network. 

If you have any questions about the training programme, email us.

Applications for the traineeships have now closed.

Thirteeen trainees from the Identification Trainers for the Future scheme

All three teams of trainees in front of Hope the spectacular blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) in Hintze Hall

Meet our trainees

Our first five trainees started in March 2015, followed by our second set of trainees in March 2016 and our third set in March 2017. Find out about them and follow their progress in our blog.

Public engagement is a major component of the traineeship. All trainees have taken part in a range of public facing events including Bioblitz events, Big Nature Day and Science Uncovered.

You can watch all three cohorts discuss the diverse range of wildlife and skills they learnt about on the traineeship. The first cohort are shown in the video below:

You can watch the other two cohorts of trainees on the Museum YouTube channel:

Identification resources by our trainees

During their time with us, trainees produce a range of materials designed to help support naturalists in their own identification work.

  • The Hidden Forests - a documentary by Alex Mills.

Alex has created  a documentary on temperate rainforests in the UK. The documentary introduces target species of ferns, mosses and liverworts which are indicative of temperate rainforests in the UK and how to identify them. Alex included information on how people  can get involved with both biological recording and with the conservation of temperate rainforests.

Filming for ‘The  Hidden Forests’ took place  between the NHM in London and at a site called Coed Ganllwyd National Nature Reserve. This  site is a prime example of a temperate rainforest and is  reputed to be the best site in western Europe for Bryophytes.

Upcoming Projects


Steph Skipp - Identification of British Soldier Beetles

Steph is planning to run a day long workshop  providing  guidance on the identification of British soldier beetles. Steph was inspired by solider beetles following her time spent on her curation placement with the Coleoptera team.

The workshop will include information on when and where it is best to record different species; soldier beetles are very seasonal and some of them are quite regional. She is also considering branching this out into a recording initiative, potentially with a website and a social media presence. Steph is keen for any guidance or ideas so please get in contact if you think you provide any assistance.


Laura Sivess - Multi-access Key to UK Ephemeroptera

Laura is building a multi-access key to the Ephemeroptera of the UK, starting with the larvae. Depending on time constraints she may also tackle the adults too but they are more difficult to ID and so this may be considered less useful/accessible due to the requirement of more specialist equipment.

The key will pull together features from existing keys and combine them in a new format in combination with images of the key features  which she  will be taking using  the photo stacker equipment in the AMC. Laura has decided to create a multi-access key because  she thinks multi-access  keys have the potential to be more user friendly than dichotomous keys. 


Matthew Harrow - Discovering Populations of Salticella fasciata

Matt carried out surveys looking for the rare dune snail-killing fly Salticella fasciata along the South Wales coastline.

In order to complete the surveys he trained volunteers about the species, it’s biology and closely related species. He also provided volunteers with an introduction into surveying for species using a variety of methods and also of assessing habitats based on those findings.

Unfortunately the surveys did not find the target species as an adult. Matt did however collect plenty of other species including a county first with the tachinid: Macquartia dispar. He also collected snails harbouring dipteran larvae which he is currently rearing out. If you want to find out more about Matt’s findings please get in contact


April Windle - Beginner’s Guide to Lichens

Lichens are currently regarded as one of the more complicated and less accessible groups to study. Their dynamic biology, structural complexity and fluid taxonomy makes them a particularly difficult group of organisms to study.

To address this April will be publishing a freely available beginner’s resource, introducing people to the world of lichens. This step by step guide will take the user through the early stages of lichenology, providing opportunities to develop their knowledge, skillset and confidence.

The document will focus on lichen morphology, biology, ecology and chemistry, alongside a series of tailored activities to complement everything that has been learnt throughout the manual. Some activities will also be assisted by video demonstrations, which will be available via the Museum’s YouTube channel and other media interfaces.

Inspiring the next generation of UK wildlife experts

Identification Trainers for the Future is led by the Museum in partnership with:

Field Studies Council 


The scheme is generously supported by:

Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future programme

Species experts shortage

Find out more about the critical need for new species identification experts and how the Museum plans to help.

Join our online community

Share your identification tips and knowledge with other wildlife enthusiasts on our ID forums.

Nature Groups Near You

Find UK-based wildlife societies running recording schemes and conservation activities in your area.

Develop your natural history skills and interests at the Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity