In the end, we will conserve only what we love,
we will love only what we understand,
and we will understand only what we can identify.
I believe that anyone who wants to be able to identify the whole British and Irish beetle fauna of 4,072 species should be able to do so without having to learn any foreign languages, spend hundreds of pounds on literature or spend dozens of hours photocopying. I believe that readily-available, accurate, up-to-date and easy-to-use English language keys should exist for all British and Irish beetles. But they don’t: the aim of this site is to plug the gaps.
This site will:
- Provide ‘cribs’ to supplement, clarify, correct and up-date existing keys.
- Provide new keys.
- Provide photo-identification guides to groups which are amenable to a ‘field guide’ style.
Cribs, keys and photo-guides will be downloadable where appropriate so they can be printed off and used as a paper copy next to the microscope or in the field.
Paper publications go out-of-date and out-of-print. All cribs, keys and photo-guides on this website will be live, evolving documents which will be updated with corrections, improvements, name-changes and new species. Documents will have version numbers and datestamps to keep track of the changes.
Everyone can contribute:
- Test. Have a go and submit a comment if you find anything confusing or can see any potential for improvement.
- Annotate. Rather than annotating the margins of your paper copy, share your notes and get the master copy updated.
- Write. Write a new key. Beginners or experts alike welcome to submit keys to the site.
- Illustrate. More and better illustrations always welcome.
- Translate. German-readers especially welcome!
- Scan. Anything out-of-print and out-of-copyright welcome.
- Negotiate. Ask copyright holders for permission.
It would be possible to write a whole book on techniques for finding and catching beetles, for killing, dissecting and identifying specimens and preparing a collection. In fact, a large part of A Coleopterist’s Handbook does just that and is a recommended purchase.
This website offers additional advice and tips on techniques from a personal perspective. I know that things like carding can be a real frustration and an obstacle to new coleopterists so these webpages aim to lower the hurdles.