Pan-species Listing

The aim of pan-species listing (PSL) is to list, record and appreciate species from all taxonomic groups, thus improving ones knowledge and understanding of wildlife in the UK in a holistic sense. Many people’s lists will naturally show a bias towards the most popular groups: birds, plants and moths, however those who have seen the most species usually have vast knowledge of the more obscure groups of insects and other invertebrates, and/or ‘lower plants’ such as fungi, lichens and bryophytes. Many of the ‘top’ listers put their expertise to use in a professional capacity, as consultant entomologists and botanists. PSL can be a different hobby for different people. Some wish to learn about everything, some enjoy twitching rarities across many taxa, others are happy expanding their knowledge of just one or two taxonomic groups. There are no strict rules to PSL-ing, so most PSL-ers do whatever pleases them the most!

My lifetime aim is to see 10,000 species in the UK, which is a little way away at the moment. At the end of 2020, my overall total was 6432 species. My goal for 2021 is to reach an overall total of 7000 My current group totals can be seen here:

Increasingly, I hear negative opinions about pan-species listing, and pan-species listers themselves! Mostly these opinions focus on the negatives of the competitive element of listing, and that some PSL-ers are only interested in growing their lists, not learning about, appreciating, or recording any groups of organisms. Personally, I do not know of a single pan-species lister who has this attitude! There may be some out there, but I’m sure they are in a minority. In any case, it doesn’t bother me what an individuals reasons for PSL-ing are, and I don’t think it should bother anyone else either!

For me, my pan-species list is a by-product of a broad interest in natural history, identification and ecology. I enjoy keeping lists, and enjoy setting myself targets. My ranking compared to others is inconsequential, other than for the fact it shows me what is possible!

The plant bug Calocoris roseomaculatus, July 2019, Cairngorms. Until 4 or 5 years ago, I had never attempted to identify any true bugs (Heteroptera) at all, believing them to be too difficult! PSL showed me that many amateur naturalists were able to put a name to these wonderful insects, often in the field, inspiring me to have a go for myself. I have now recorded almost 300 species of Heteroptera, amongst over 450 Hemipteroids (true bugs, leafhoppers and their relatives).

%d bloggers like this: