Frequently asked questions

Answers

What's this site for?

We aim to give you access to some of the best natural history content in the world - whether that's from the BBC archive, from tonight's TV and radio or right now from the field. We hope you find the content entertaining and informative and enjoy exploring the amazing diversity of the natural world.

You seem to be missing a lot of species - what about this one?

We are not trying to be encyclopaedic - others are much better placed to provide this service.

Our purpose is to help you explore the natural world through BBC content: because we don't have content about the majority of the world's species we don't have a page for the majority of species.

There are a couple of reasons why we might not provide a link to a particular taxon - the most likely reason is that we simply don't have any content about it. If we don't have any information, we aren't linking to it.

The other reason is that some species - such as walruses and aardvarks are the only living representative species in their genus and family (or order in the case of aardvarks). This means that we don't have anything to say about their genus, family etc and so don't have a page about them.

Why does your map look funny?

All maps are a compromise, they have at least one sort of distortion; this is because maps are projections of a sphere on to a plane.

We are using the Robinson projection - this projection has the disadvantage of being heavily distorted near the poles (the distortions elsewhere are much less severe) but importantly has the advantage of providing a good representation of the surface area. (Many projections don't seek to preserve the surface area which is why Greenland can appear to be the same size as Africa).

Where are you getting your species distribution data?

The data is sourced from WWF's Wildfinder, more information on which can be found on the Wildfinder site.

WWF, in turn, sourced the data from here:

Modifications to these lists have been made, by WWF, at the suggestion of regional and taxonomic experts.

What about the information on adaptations, where's that from?

We are making extensive use of ETHAN (Evolutionary Trees and Natural History Ontology) as used by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology's Animal Diversity Web to provide us with information about the adaptations and behaviours associated with each species.

The species distribution data looks wrong to me - what's going on?

The maps show a set of ecoregions in which the species occurs, not a precise range map for the species.

The database only records the presence or absence of each species in each ecoregion. This means that even if a species is only found in one location within an ecoregion the entire region will be highlighted. This will typically overestimate the geographic range for a species.

What does the Conservation Status mean?

The IUCN Red List evaluates the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies around the world.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (also know as the IUCN Red List or Red Data List) is recognised as the world's most authoritative inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.

Species are classified in nine groups, based on criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation.

  • Extinct (EX) - No individuals remaining
  • Extinct in the Wild (EW) - Known only to survive in captivity, or as a naturalised population outside its historic range
  • Critically Endangered (CR) - Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild
  • Endangered (EN) - Very high risk of extinction in the wild
  • Vulnerable (VU) - High risk of extinction in the wild
  • Near Threatened (NT) - Likely to become endangered in the near future
  • Least Concern (LC) - Lowest risk. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category
  • Data Deficient (DD) - Not enough data to make an assessment of its risk of extinction
  • Not Evaluated (NE) - Has not yet been evaluated against the criteria

The term 'threatened' is a grouping of: Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable.

Why is the BBC using Wikipedia?

We know that many people would like to find out more about the natural world, and background information about the species, habitats and adaptations we cover is one of the key things that people expect to find on our pages.

However, we feel that we provide best value to the licence fee payer by concentrating our resources on providing great original content and making it easy to find that content on the web.

By incorporating content from Wikipedia we can offer good quality background information across the breadth of natural history content, while focusing on bringing unique content online.

Wikipedia is licenced under the GNU Free Documentation Licence, which means not only is there no licensing cost to the licence fee payer for this text, but it is also freely available to all our users to use and share in turn. At the BBC we are not only using the content that is already published on Wikipedia, but also improving those articles and creating new ones where none exist. This should improve bbc.co.uk, Wikipedia and any other site that uses Wikipedia.

What if I find some content that's inaccurate from Wikipedia?

Everybody is welcome to edit Wikipedia, and we are very keen to encourage experts among our users to contribute in this way. Links are displayed on every page that incorporates Wikipedia content, to edit entries please go to Wikipedia and edit the article there.

What happens if somebody decides to vandalise content on Wikipedia deliberately?

Our first resort is to rely on Wikipedia's own community and conventions which have generally proved robust in their response to vandalism. The Wikipedia policy on vandalism can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_vandalism. However, if it comes to our attention, for example via a user complaint, that there is a persistent problem with offensive or defamatory content being included from Wikipedia on any of our pages, we also have the option of suspending the inclusion of that information on the page in question until we're satisfied that the problem has been resolved. In the unlikely event that you have spotted something offensive please contact us and let us know.

How can I contact the BBC to give my views on this approach to publishing content?

We are very keen to hear the views of our audience on our approach to publishing content. If you have a general comment, please contact us here. Please note that while we value your feedback we can't necessarily answer every comment or question that comes in.

If you have seen content that's defamatory or highly offensive, please use our complaints form and we will aim to respond as soon as possible.

What natural history programmes are on the TV and radio?

A full list of BBC programmes, those currently available on iPlayer, those coming up in the 7 days and podcasts are available on the Nature & Environment genre page.

Where's your API?

Our website is our API - you can access the site as RDF/XML or RSS. For more information please see feeds and data.

Can I watch video clips outside the UK?

Rights agreements mean that we are only able to make video clips available to play in the UK. However, we are aware of demand for an international version.

I'm in the UK but told that I'm not, what should I do?

Sometimes even though you're in the UK it's possible you may see a message saying you're not. This could be because your computer is on a foreign-based network, or is routed overseas (sometimes the case with work connections if your employer is not UK-based). Some programmes, such as web accelerators, can cause your IP address to appear as if it is outside the UK.

If we don't recognise your IP address at all, then you won't be able to stream the clips.

Occasionally it may simply be a network error, so it's worth closing your browser or router and reopening as a new IP address is allocated which may be UK-based.

Our Geo-IP technology system recognises IP addresses provided by UK-based internet service providers (ISPs). If we don't recognise your address, you must contact your ISP as they alone can register your address.

If your ISP has registered with the appropriate databases, our servers are updated on a regular basis so you will have to wait until the next refresh to gain access.

Wildlife

  • Birds: Scarlet Macaw feathers
  • Amphibians: Northern Leopard Frog, Ontario, Canada
  • Mammals: Jackal Fur
  • Reptiles: Alligator scales
  • Cartilaginous Fishes: Whale Shark skin
  • Star Fish: Red starfishes, Mexico, Sea of Cortez, Baja California, La Paz
  • Ray-finned Fishes: Spotted scorpionfish
  • Spiders: A house spider sitting in a bathroom sink, London
  • Insects: Wasp Eye
  • Sea Urchins: Red and purple urchins
  • Corals and sea anemones: Various types of coral in an aquarium at London Zoo
  • Cephalopods: Reef Octopus Suckers
  • Lobsters: Regal slipper lobster
  • Millipedes: Giant Millipede Shell
  • Polychaete Worms: Fan worm, Gozo, Malta
  • Lob-finned Fishes: Prehistoric Coelacanth digital illustration of a fish that was believed to have become extinct during the Cretaceous Period. Specimens have recently been found in Indonesia.
  • Barnacles: Barnacles from Bucks Mill beach, Devon, UK
  • Mollusca: Giant African landsnail.
  • Animals: Herd of wildebeest on a field, Tanzania
  • Chordates: Cat X-Ray.
  • Arthropods: Caterpillar larva of Death's head feeding on potato foliage, Camargue, France
  • Jellyfish: Red starfishes, Asteroidea, Mexico, Sea of Cortez, Baja California, La Paz
  • Lampreys: Sea lamprey close up of disk-shaped mouth with horny teeth, Europe
  • Whales: Bryde's whale with throat pleats expanded after feeding on baitball of Sardines off Baja California, Mexico, Eastern Pacific Ocean
  • Plants: Close-up of leaf vein structure in Fig leaf, Dorset, UK
  • Fungi: Close up of gills of the Field mushroom in Dorset, England
  • Chromista: Giant Kelp close up with detail of floats. Catalina Island, California, USA

Behaviours

  • Adapted to extremes: Polar bear resting in blizzard, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
  • Animal intelligence: Hooded Crow trying to open a bottle, Liminka Finland May
  • Behavioural pattern: Wildebeest heard
  • Communication and senses: Common Cuttlefish
  • Ecosystem roles: Wasp beetle on an Ox-eye daisy flower
  • Feeding habits: Schooling bigeye jacks
  • Life cycle: Agile frog developing embryo Italy
  • Locomotion: Bottlenose dolphins jumping at sunset, Caribbean
  • Morphology: Close-up of shells of snails
  • Predation strategy: Crocodile Teeth
  • Reproduction strategy: Frog Spawn
  • Social behaviour: Honey Bees
  • Survival strategy: Yellow pygmy seahorse camouflaged amongst coral, Indo-pacific

Habitats

  • Terrestrial: Rock Formations in Zhang Jia Jie National Park' It's in Hunan Province, China
  • Freshwater: Forest in Skate Creek, Washington, USA
  • Marine: Coral reef scenic from Raja Empat, Indonesia

Ecozones

  • Penwith peninsula, Cornwall, UK

Wildlife Finder

  • Tropical ladybird on leaf, Tambopata National Reserve, Amazonia, Peru

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