Things to do before you're 40

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday, 1 January 2014 19:45

I've been looking back at my pan-species listing efforts recently and given the time of year, it's got me thinking of another goal. Now, I AM going to hit 5000 easily this year so that's not really something to aim for. Pan-species listing is a new phenomena and it won't be until people have been doing it for many decades that the bar will be set for future generations to aim for. That got me thinking. Short term goals are not the way forward. We have to think in terms of the 'long haul'. Immediately my challenge sprung into my mind whilst I was in the bath wrestling the inevitable NYE hang over.

I am going to attempt to see 10,000 species in the UK before I am 40.

So, is this actually achievable? There are 1566 days (don't panic, I've counted the leap year in 2016) left until I am 40. I need to see 5277 species in that time. This works out at 3.37 species per day, every day. That is tough going. I have added five species today from a sample in May but is that effort sustainable?

Here is the first post I did about pan-species listing back on the 1st August 2010 when there were very few people doing it and it still didn't have a name! Since then I have added 1975 species! But that is three years and five months which works out at only 1.58 species per day. I have had long periods where I have lost interest in it over the years and have struggled to get one new species in a month!

Why bother though? What has pan-species listing done for me? I'll tell you what:
  • I've gone from an experienced naturalist to a competent entomologist in three years, capable of carrying out invertebrate surveys which supplement the bird and botanical surveys I already do as part of my work.
  • Through blogging about it, I have encouraged lots of other people to get involved and have developed a strong reputation that benefits both my career and the Trust.
  • It encouraged me to digitise my records and some 10 months after going down that route, I now have 17,662 records entered.
  • I've watched a lively and thriving community develop around this movement and have made some good friends in the process.
  • I've had so much fun.
These are just the benefits to me, so imagine what the benefits are to conservation and natural history from the movement as a whole. I'd like pan-species listing to get a little more recognition than it does to be honest.

In the  dark old days, when birding dominated my natural history efforts and I wasted years of my life year-listing, maybe a dozen times a year I would experience seeing something new for the first time. Now it happens most days, often several times a day and I have to say, it's something I expect I will do until the day I die (which makes me think I wonder what my last ever tick will be). Am I addicted? Yes. But there are worse things to be addicted to!

I don't think for a second I will get to 10,000 in that time, the last time I attempted a 1000 in a year, things went a little awry but Tony Davis has managed a 1000 in a year and it's got me thinking about having another go. I've got a much better set up with my study, data base and new system of keeping track of 'ticks' so maybe they will all help.

I'm already ahead of schedule with five new species today including the cuckoo bee Nomada ruficornis above as well as Nomada marshamella, Neoascia meticulosa (a fly), Gongylidium rufipes (a money spider) and Perapion hydrolapathi (a beetle).

I suppose I'm gonna have to get into flies.

5 Response to "Things to do before you're 40"

Steve Gale Says:

Don't burn out Graeme - remember what happened a couple of years ago. I think 10k before you hit 40 will be hard going, but if you WANT to do it, you can and will. I'm hoping to get to 4000 by the end of the year.

Graeme Lyons Says:

I hear you Steve! The minute it's not working for me, I'll be slowing down or stopping.

Gibster Says:

Chaps, Master Yoda summed it up years back - Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try.

Graeme - hats off to you, fella. Best of luck!

Steve - race ya there!

Charles Roper Says:

Don't let any potential admiring lady observe this post Graeme. Unless they're also a naturalist. And put aside any aspirations for having kids before you're 40; I can safely say your chancse of hitting your target would become essentially nil if that were the case. But if it WERE the case then you'd probably not care about 10k anyway as the new project would be just as rewarding, challenging and fascinating. And possibly even more knackering.

Graeme Lyons Says:

I better not let Rachael see your comment! We've been together a year on Sunday. She'll think I never talk about her at work!

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