At the risk of completely alienating myself from the rest of humanity I will make this post. It was going to be a "comment" on Steve Gale's blog; ref his post- To collect or not to collect? http://northdownsandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/to-collect-or-not-to-collect
But, as you will discover, it sort of developed an identity of its' own and went rambling off into the distance.
I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this reply; so it's not an off the cuff response. The whole concept of Pan Listing League Tables has caused me problems ever since Mr Telfer proposed the idea in 2011. Any form of competition will, unfortunately, attract those who are, by definition, competitive and, therefore, the concept of winning is more important than taking part. Cheats, fraudsters, corner cutters! It doesn't matter whether it is the Olympic Games or a local Golfing Society - competition will bring out the worst in people. In birding parlance they are called "stringers", I have no idea what the Pan Listing equivalent would be? My question is "Are the wonders of the natural world really so trivial that they are measurable by numbers?"
One of the leading lights in this field has stated that he just wants to become a better naturalist - so is it killing things, and being able to use an id key, that makes you better? Or is it being higher up the league? Or is one dependant on the other? Technology has advanced an awful long way since the Victorian era, yet the world of the entomologist is stuck in a time warp! Bill Dykes was fortunate to capture the 2nd Euchromius cambridgei
(a moth) for the UK. Digital photography was able to confirm the id - the record's a good'n? Oh no - 26th June 2014 and Mr Dykes is adding yet another, pathetic, pinned specimen to a collection. What the fucking hell for? Everyone agrees that the id was correct; it is not a difficult species to confirm. If there was any problems, a simple scale sample (easily obtained using a small paint brush) should allow a DNA analysis to be undertaken, the id confirmed and the moth flies free!
|The first and second UK records of Asiatic Nycteoline. Well yes and no!|
One was captured and is now a pinned specimen, the other was
in one of my traps, in Gadget's garden. It was photographed, extensively,
before being released. The record rejected due to the a lack of a specimen.
I'm happy with my id and my conscience is clear about our actions.
From where I am sitting, involvement in Pan Listing is simply an excuse to ignore the reality of technological progress. Because this new phenomenon is encouraging participants to explore unfamiliar territory, many specimens are taken which, to a specialist, would be bread and butter. Don't worry about the fact that your phone has a better camera than either David Bailey or Eric Hosking used to earn their livings; ignore the fact that we can get a DNA match from museum specimens, let's remain entrenched in the 19th century when collecting was the only option, and stick to our guns! If you really desire to become a better naturalist, then surely you should be attempting to promote the use of every technological advance that has been made in the fields of imagery and DNA analysis, to move our skill base to a higher level so that we have the ability to make confident identifications of living specimens and not remain in an era that has had its' day.
If, as Steve suggests, Pan Listing, for him, is a way of providing an excuse to get outdoors, get involved in the personal challenge of expanding your knowledge of our wildlife - that's wonderful, a splendid concept; individuals pushing themselves beyond the limits of their comfort zone and discovering new families/groups as they delve deeper into what is out there.
|How would a 1st UK record of Mallow Skipper stand up within our present system?|
Would a series of digital images be sufficient to get an acceptance, or will only the corpse suffice?
Scrap the league tables then people, who don't know Mute Swan from Canada Goose, will only be lying to themselves. Absolutely nothing wrong with like-minded souls going on organised field trips, sharing knowledge and experiences. It's what our natural history is all about - it's there to be enjoyed, not turned into game where statistics are used to demonstrate ability and the "token specimen" is an approved method of involvement. Or, how's this for an idea? What if the league table was only for species which were reliably id'd by non-lethal means? How quickly would you develop into a better all round naturalist as you strive to push the limits of our current knowledge as you, in turn, increase your own? Pan Listing would then become an arena where studying the subject was as important as the "tick in the box" which might arise from the encounter. Sadly at present, all I read, out there in blogland, is a series of exploits in which boxes are ticked at such an alarming rate that there is absolutely no way that any detailed study of the life form could have been undertaken - except under a microscope! (So they are ex-life forms!)
|A "continental" Swallowtail Butterfly|
I feel sure that the vast majority of those interested, in our natural world, would object
if it were captured as "a token specimen" because it occurred in a UK garden.
At what point do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable?
As with all my posts - the opinions that I have are just that - mine! I don't expect everyone to agree with me but, if you want a war - go to Iraq. If my writing offends - don't bother reading it, a very simple option and much preferable to wasting your emotions over something so unimportant! Might I finish with thanks to Steve Gale for yet another entertaining exchange of views - my blog stats are up there with the "Ramsgate Warbler saga" as a result.