This page is about pan-species listing for Britain, Ireland and the Channel Isles. The pan-species listers are a growing community of all-round naturalists united by an interest in all the wildlife of these islands, from Daisies to Death’s-head Hawk-moths and from Killer Whales to Killer Shrimps. As a schoolboy birder and twitcher, I wanted to get into other taxonomic groups and resolved an ambition to see 4,000 species of animals, plants and fungi in Britain and Ireland. A few years ago, I achieved that ambition and started to wonder just how high could British and Irish pan-species listing go? These pages have the answer …
I know there are naturalists who frown on listing. But if you are offended by the apparent trivialisation of natural history to the mere accumulation of big tallies of species, please read on. There is some biographical information about each of the listers and you will see that they are good naturalists and diligent biological recorders, often making significant contributions to the fields of conservation, research, taxonomy, biological recording, or inspiring and educating others about wildlife. But the main thing pan-species listers have in common is an unashamed enjoyment in keeping count of the species they see as they pursue their lives!
My purpose in putting together these rankings was not so much to encourage competition between listers but to encourage camaraderie amongst like-minded naturalists. And it has been great to make contact with so many people who share an enthusiasm for the full breadth of biodiversity. If you would like to join the pan-species rankings, I’d love to hear from you. I know it can be a big job to work out your pan-species list if you haven’t already been carefully keeping count but I’m happy to take estimated totals. For more information about joining, see here. You can also now join other pan-species listers on facebook.
A person’s pan-species list is a list of all the valid species of animals, plants, fungi and protists (i.e. everything except Bacteria) they have seen in Britain, Ireland or the Channel Isles. It excludes anything seen only in permanent captivity or culture (e.g. zoo or farm animals, crops, garden plants) but includes any alien which has established itself here even if it depends upon the inadvertent help of humans to persist (e.g. the many invertebrates which survive only in indoor environments). See The Rules (added 28th May 2011) for more info. Read more on the Birdguides website here. And see the Telegraph article about Jonty and Dave’s race to reach 10,000 here.
Has Jonty seen more of the wildlife of these islands than any other naturalist ever? I suspect that the modern-day record holder will also be the all-time record holder. I don’t think any naturalist of the past would have been able to do all the travelling required to see so much of the wildlife of Britain and Ireland. And modern day naturalists also have the benefit of modern websites, literature, technology and equipment which would have been the envy of previous generations. For a comparison from the 18th century, here’s Linnaeus’ pan-species list. I wonder if there are any mycologists who have seen more than two-thirds of the UK’s 14,562 species of fungi?