Why all pan-species listers should start putting their lists on BUBO

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Wednesday 6 December 2023 15:11

This post is really aimed at all the existing PSLers who have not yet started to get involved with BUBO. But it's also relevant to anyone wanting to get into pan-species listing - there has never been a better time. Those clever chaps at BUBO have been putting one group on at a time, for a couple of months now and we are passed the half way mark, with my 'big three' already up (moths, vascular plants & beetles). We've broke the back of it, with 64.4% of my list now on there. There are 150 people on the rankings in just two months, while it's took 10 years to get to 300 on the PSL page, while only around 100 of those have updated in the last two years.

First of, a quick reminder that the PSL area of BUBO is here.

What is BUBO?

It's a FREE (but donations are gratefully received) online tick-list, run by at least one pan-species lister, that was originally set up for birding. Over the last two months we have been putting up all of the UKSI, so that pan-species listers can manage their entire lists online, in one place for all to see. So why bother? Here's why...

It's totally transparent

For the first time, the PSL rankings are backed up with actual evidence of what each person has seen. This is far better than just putting a number in a box. It's so much better to see 1700 beetles than it is to just see the number 1700.

It's very convenient and accurate

My actual lists have grown and evolved since I started PSL. Back then I didn't run a database and there was no iRecord, so my lists existed in some very messy states. They didn't need to be anything else to generate a single number to populate the website. So going through everything with a fine-tooth comb has been a great exercise in data cleaning for me. I've really valued this time to go through them all. I have been very thorough with my work records in my database for the last decade but not so much with all of my casual recording. I have captured most of it, but not all and it's easy to miss things. Never again, with BUBO though!

It has some great functions, such as the 'targets'

The target function shows the species that you have not seen that most other PSLers have. And you can sort it by group too. Here are my top ten targets across all taxa.

I mean, I knew Common Hawker would be at the top of the list but I never thought Feral Goat would be my number two! I also had no idea how many people had seen Monarch! 45/150 people so far. And two fish in my top ten. I can't get enough of the targets feature...

And my top ten vascular plant targets. Pretty cool!

Common Bistort, I knew that would be at the top but never thought that Fen Orchid would be in 4th place. This is a real reflection on the fact that so many people go around the UK ticking off orchids. No need to go restrict yourself with PSL when everything is a tick! Wait a minute, I'm sure I've seen Pink-sorrel. I better get looking through my records again. This is totally why this feature is so useful. I've even had other people look through my list and remind me of things I have missed off (thanks Kev).

It's a great way of getting you lifers!

Your PSL list will be bigger for using BUBO. I have already realised a few really common things I had just never recorded before. One within three minutes of my house! I am also very much aware that most of my Hemipteran targets are aphids. So many more people are doing aphids, a real blind spot for me. So next summer, I'm hitting them hard.

It's a great leveller

Everything that is 'tickable' will be on there. Things that some people might have missed that others didn't, will be there for all to see. Some people used to tick hybrids, some didn't. Now they're up, everyone's ticking 'em!


Here you can see the species that the least number of people have seen, starting with a list that only you have seen. Imagine how smug you'll feel scrolling through long lists of species that only you have seen!

You can also calculate how much of the UK's wildlife you've seen...

So far, of the groups that we have put up, I have seen 22.0%. So lots still to find!

The process of doing this is helping to tidy up the UK Species Inventory

The very nature of having a group of taxonomy obsessed uber-naturalists looking through the UK Species Inventory, is that we are better placed to spot errors and emissions than anyone else. This database of species is a vital part of biological recording in the UK, so a great example of PSL putting something back in.

Does it take ages?

Too busy to get your list up? The guys at BUBO might be able to help existing pan-listers as a one off to help get the majority of your list on, as long as it's in a sensible format. Get in touch if you fall into this category. However, I would say to all existing PSLers, that this is a one-off job you'll never have to do again and it's worth prioritising some time over the winter to get your list on. You don't need to add date and location for everything, or even anything (I haven't). I have prioritised getting my list on first, I can always come back to that at a later date if I decide to.

Is it the same as iRecord?

Absolutely not. This is not another recording platform, this is an output of recording. PSL & BUBO are both big supporters of iRecord, so nothing has changed here. Keep entering and submitting your data in the usual ways.

There's going to be challenges and other features to keep you entertained

Annual challenges and other features will be coming further down the line, so it won't be restricted to just the current set up. It's an exciting time to be a pan-lister, so why not get involved now? 

It's important to have everyone involved

I'm enjoying a brief period at the top until Mark updates, but there are two listers above him that it would be great to get involved and plenty of other PSLers who are yet to sign up to BUBO. To all those who fall into these categories, please do sign up to BUBO as soon as you can and start ticking! I hope this post has persuaded you of the benefits. What we really don't want is two separate communities developing out of this. The last 13 years of PSL has generated a real community vibe and we really need to keep that going, so having all the original, stalwart pan-listers together with the new recruits that have come directly from BUBO is really important.

What about the PSL website?

Please do keep your totals up to date here too, for the time being at least. It's a bit of faff and we are discussing a way forward to have everything in one place, but for the time being, the two sites are working in tandem. The PSL site is here https://psl.brc.ac.uk/home.

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