Home » 2011 » November

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pan-species listing milestones

Jonty Denton’s still not letting up, with 289 species added since mid-May taking his record-breaking list through 10,500 to stand at 10,535.

Dave Gibbs isn’t ready to submit an update yet but has added about 250 species during 2011 and reckons he’ll get to 10,000 by about the end of 2012.

Graeme Lyons and Martin Harvey have both broken 3,500 during the year. Graeme retains a slender lead.

Jon Newman, Steve Gale and Sarah Patton have all had very good years and all broken through 3,000 during the autumn. Sarah has pulled well clear though, by finishing the job of gleaning records from old notebooks to take her list to 3,327. Jon and Steve are neck-and-neck on 3,013 and 3,012 respectively!

Seth Gibson has just passed his target of 2,500 and has his sights set on 3,000.

Mark Skevington will be passing 2,000 before much longer.

Most of the pan-species listers have been spurred into tackling new groups, and fungi especially have been a rich source of new species, along with mosses, liverworts and beetles. Despite this fine example set by others, I seem to have spent most of the year concentrating more and more on beetles. Despite the fact that I’ve only seen a little over half the British and Irish beetle fauna and there’s still almost 2,000 species to go, it does seem to be getting harder and harder to find new ones – and more and more rewarding each time I do!

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, beetling man …

This is Peter Hammond at Langley Park demonstrating his Pat-a-Cake method with fine sievings from red-rotten heartwood.

Here’s a technique for finding the sort of tiny beetles that are so small or well camouflaged that you can’t see them until they move. Try it next summer:

  1. Tip the sievings onto a sheet in full sun, preferably on a hot surface such as sun-baked tarmac.
  2. Pat the sievings down into a very thin layer.
  3. Lay aside your pipe.
  4. Take up your pooter.
  5. Get comfy.
  6. Wait for rare beetles to break cover as the heat starts to bother them.

We were looking for the tiny pselaphine Plectophloeus nitidus, which we didn’t find. But we did see the very distinctive larvae of Scraptia (Scraptiidae) with their bulbous tails that they autotomise (self-amputate) under duress.