Frequently Asked Questions

How do I interpret data?

There is no easy answer to this question. Biodiversity data varies considerably and their application or interpretation depends on how the data were collected and why. Users should consider the following points when interpreting data.

  • How were the data collected, what techniques or methods were used? Beam trawls and grab sample collect a different range of species.
  • Why were the data collected? Surveys for the presence of a single protected species will produce different results from a complete species and habitat survey.
  • What was the survey designed to reveal? The sample design for a habitat survey is likely to be different from the sample design to reveal differences in communities between impacted an non-impacted sites.
  • When was the survey undertaken? Some species are seasonal and their absence from, or presence in, a survey is likely to depend on the time of year.
  • Where was the survey undertaken? Many species are habitat specific, so that a survey of deep offshore sediments is unlikely to record species typical of shallow rock habitats.
  • What type of site was surveyed? A highly polluted or impacted site is likely to exhibit a lower biodiversity than a pristine site of similar habitat.

At the end of the day, the user is responsible for the interpretation and application of the data. Please refer to section two of our Terms & Conditions and look at clauses 2.1 and 2.5 in particular.

If you have any queries concerning the interpretation of data available through DASSH, please contact us

What do you mean by data?

Data are material or information, which includes species or habitat survey data, species lists, habitat or biotope lists, species or habitat/biotope distribution maps, figures, images, video clips and other relevant information (written or otherwise). Please note that images (slides, stills) and video or film can be important forms of data in their own right.

To be useful the data should comply with the four 'W's of biological recording, that is include, who, where, when, and of course what. 'Where' should include a geospatial reference, which is a complicated way of saying a location or place, preferably with latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, or as an absolute minimum a place name.

Do you archive all marine environmental data?

That would be a massive task, so no! Fortunately there is a network of marine Data Archives Centres (DACs) in the UK coordinated through MEDIN. Have a look at the list of DACs in the links section. If you are still in doubt about where to submit your data contact DASSH and we will point you in the right direction (

Do I give away my intellectual property rights?

Contributing data/images to DASSH does not infringe or compromise your intellectual property rights! Intellectual property rights always remains with the Data provider and is protected by the DASSH Terms and Conditions.

How do I submit data to DASSH?

Simply read though our Submit data section for details. If you have any doubts simply email us (

What are Metadata?

Metadata are data about data. As a minimum, metadata describe who collected the data, where they were collected, when they were collected, what the dataset(s) describes, how the dataset was collected, and a contact person/organization or data provider from which a copy of the data can be obtained. Metadata standards ensure metadata are collected in a standardised way which allows them to be shared or combined to form a national information resource and help to answer management questions both nationally and internationally.

What types of data do you archive?

DASSH specializes in marine biodiversity data and/or information, for example species or habitat survey data, species lists, habitat or biotope lists, species or habitat/biotope distribution maps, figures, images, video clips and other relevant information (written or otherwise). DASSH is therefore, particularly interested in data, images or video. Data and image sources are likely to include the following.

  • Trawling or dredging surveys.
  • Grab sampling or sedimentary cores.
  • Drop down video survey (usually with ground truthing).
  • Diver surveys.
  • Intertidal surveys.
  • Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) surveys.
  • Broad scale remote acoustic surveys.
  • Volunteer or amateur naturalist surveys and sightings.