Friday, 3 March 2017

1000 Species Challenge

I've mentioned in previous posts that I'm currently taking part in the 1000 Species in a 1km Square Challenge, an idea originally spawned in the poor deranged mind of Andy Musgrove back in 2013. Surprisingly there were a whole bunch of like-minded nature nuts out there keen to give it a try. Many folks pushed the boundaries of their identification skills into new territories, tackling organisms they'd never ordinarily have looked at before. The heavy restriction of being contained within a single 1km square forced close inspections of even the most unpromising habitats. We were all pleasantly surprised by how well we fared, this was proper enforced PSLing in action! That was in 2013. And now, after an absence of several years, the Challenge is back. Not many of us taking part yet (just six in fact) so there's plenty of room for newcomers - and it definitely isn't too late to start.

NG3963 as shown on the OS map and in real life (photo taken looking west from the cemetery)
The great thing about the Challenge is that you get inspiration and ideas from the other participants. I show them what I've just found, they go and have a look and maybe find it too. Likewise I've gained several lifers I'd never even heard of before from looking through their blogs on the site. It's all good stuff - it keeps you motivated to keep on keeping on! 

Ali has knocked up a breakdown of how he hopes to attain his 1000 species. Clearly he knows the area he's chosen for his 1km square whereas I've come into this practically blind-folded. I arrived in December and have never been here before that other than a brief two day stay in November whilst being interviewed for a job. I've not even seen leaves on the trees yet! Nevertheless, without the benefits of hindsight or site familiarity, I have attempted to replicate what Ali has done and break my 1000 hoped for species into different categories. Here goes nothing...

PSL Category (current total shown in brackets)
Algae - 25 species (21)
Slime Mould - 2 species (0)
Protists - 5 (0)
Lichens - 60 species (47)
Fungi - 50 species (27)
Bryophytes - 60 species (39)
Plants - 140 species (79)
Sponges - 2 species (1)
Comb-jellies - 0 species (0)
Cnidarians - 5 species (2)
Molluscs - 50 species (34)
Bryozoans - 8 species (4)
Annelids - 15 species (7)
Platyhelminths - 7 species (6)
Sea Spiders - 0 species (0)
Arachnids - 20 species (3)
Myriapods - 15 species (9)
Crustaceans - 20 species (10)
Springtails - 4 species (2)
Bristletails - 1 species (1)
Odonata - 3 species (0)
Orthopteroids - 4 species (1)
Hemiptera - 45 species (1)
Hymenoptera - 40 species (0)
Coleoptera - 70 species (8)
Diptera - 60 species (1)
Butterflies - 6 species (0)
Moths - 140 species (6)
Other Insects - 20 species (0)
Echinoderms - 5 species (0)
Tunicates - 4 species (1)
Fish - 10 species (5)
Repltiles - 2 species (0)
Amphibians - 2 species (0)
Birds - 90 species (49)
Mammals - 10 species (4)

TOTAL 1000 species (368)

I have no idea how close to my final figures any of those will be. Some I think I can better, I've just reined in the totals so that it all adds up to an even 1000 species. So does this mean that I feel confident that I'll smash through the 1000 mark? Well no, that's not necessarily so at all. I literally have no experience of Uig in the summer time. It may be dire, crap for plant and insect diversity. I am on an island off the North West coast of Scotland after all - who knows what will be absent that I fully expect to be here. Remember, I'm a softie Southerner far, far away from what I'm used to. Not that I'm copping out, hell no! I'm gunning for the 1000 species and I'm over a third of the way there already. 

I don't think I'll encounter any Comb-jellies in my square. I've never seen a Sea-spider and don't expect to find my first on Uig Beach. I've never yet identified a Protist, but with my brand new compound microscope that may change hence my hoped for tally of five. Things like butterflies, dragonflies and the herps are pretty few and far between on Skye, hence the low totals for those. Other categories such as Hymenoptera, Coleoptera and Diptera have relatively low target totals yet will require a lot of effort on my part as I am weak in those orders. But essentially it's all guesswork! It'll be fun watching myself get closer to each hoped for total and hopefully exceeding some of them. 

Come back in 10 months' time and the scores will be done...and maybe reset for a brand new 1km sq Challenge?

There's a few species of lichen on this rock I haven't identified (or ticked) yet!
Who knows how many species of caddis, mayfly, stonefly, fish, algae, platyhelminths, leeches and protists are in here!
Can't wait to see these in leaf! I wonder which birds, insects and spiders will I encounter in here this summer?

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