The Natural History of Pan-species Listers

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 2 March 2014 13:27

I gave a talk at the the Surrey recorders seminar yesterday, an updated version of a talk I gave to the Sussex recorders back in 2012. Half way through the talk I hijacked my own presentation with a short presentation called 'The Natural History of Pan-species Listers'. As the PSL community gave me the information to do this, I thought it only right to share it with everyone. Please bare in mind that this is only a subset of a maximum of 28 of the 51 listers that gave me their info. There have been some interesting changes in the last two years. First off. The number of people doing it! I couldn't get everyone onto a single slide for 2014! I imagine the website can't come soon enough for Mark at this rate!

The other interesting thing was the change in age classes. There has been a rapid increase in the number of twenty somethings which is really encouraging.

Here is the list size versus age graph which basically shows the rate at which you have seen what you have seen!
I find this really interesting. Jonty and Dave are clearly out at front. Mark, Richard, Scotty and I are all more or less lined up. There is the obvious cluster of the 'twenty somethings', another cluster in the 'forty somethings' a strange void in the 'thirty somethings' and beyond that not a lot of meaning at all. Another way of displaying this is...

But the balance between men and women needs a little working on!

I have the 2012 and the 2014 PSL atlases too but I just need to check if I can put them online. 

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I had a few comments about the lack of mycological expertise expressed in the rankings. My answer to this was that they just haven't signed up yet. It seems to me that you can either go down a predominantly invertebrate route with this, or a predominantly fungi and lower plants route. As it's taken off with the former, I believe most of the people are drawn into it are currently more invertebrate focused. To have a few experts in mycology in the rankings with huge fungi lists would be great and would start to address this balance.

I also heard a sad story that a young lister was told it was a waist of time by their university lecturer! I think it was something along the lines of "all you would ever record are common species that nobody is interested in"! I believe this to be a very misinformed comment and I'm glad that who ever it was has stuck with it!

Another comment made seemed to think that most people could never tackle the keys out there with any competency and it would just produce lots of rubbish records. This goes totally against my approach to this and why I support PSL so much. My attitude is this, if someone else can do it, then I can do it and the only thing stopping me is not having the right equipment or literature. By being fearless with natural history and tackling new groups I have completely changed my approach. New taxa, keys and nomenclature are now something I thrive off not hide away from. Things are only hard when you don't know how to do them! I am not saying I haven't made a few mistakes along the way, but that's what county recorders and people further up the list are for!

A final point which I will be including in the website is the concept of PSL site rankings. This would be great way to engage nature reserve management staff in recording on their sites so if you have the ability to start putting a site list together (not just for a single person I should, a collective effort over time for a site) or already have one then please pass it on to me. It would be nice to have a few lists to kick start the website. Many people who are not interested in PSL have told me they would be interested in this. Rye Harbour for example must be up there as one of the most biodiverse sites in the UK.

Finally, as Scotty missed it. Here is the slide I put up to show that I am not in anyway competitive!

2 Response to "The Natural History of Pan-species Listers"

Ali Says:

I spotted a PSLer last weekend. Can I keep a meta-list?

Graeme Lyons Says:

Whenever I see someone famous, I record them as Homo sapiens and write who they are in the 'comments' field. I just realised I had a miner Z-lister in the pub last night!

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