Thursday, 21 December 2017

1000 Species Breakdown

Back near the start of this year I signed myself up for the 1000 in 1KSQ Challenge. In a nutshell, the goal of the challenge is to record 1000 wild species in a chosen 1km square during the course of a single calendar year. Naturally I chose NG3963, what with it being the 1km square this whole blog revolves around. On 19th December, after a late dash for the finish line, the 1000th species for the square finally fell. Whoop whoop for me! It was a 4mm long water snail, one I'd not seen before. Nice.

In all seriousness, 1000 species is a totally respectable tally for my first year on Skye. I'm now living a long, long way north and diversity just isn't what it was down south in warmer climes. So saying, a tremendous amount of pace and enthusiasm was lost halfway through the year. My nadir was probably September/October/November when enthusiasm for getting out there and identifying some of the more obscure species was very decidedly lacking. Even the blogging fell by the wayside for three whole months. However, December proved to be an absolute life saver, with a good chunk of species secured in a short space of time. What was lacking in 2017 was 'A Plan of Attack'. After a full year in the square, I now have that plan - but more about that in the following blogpost.

I've broken the species seen in 2017 into categories and tallied up how many were seen for each. I've also shown my projected tallies as they were at the start of the year. Plus I've chucked in how many of those were lifers for me. Without a doubt, this will prove both stupefyingly boring and uber geeky to everybody but myself. Ho hum, you know the rules - my blog, sucks to be you...

Algae - 45 species (25 predicted) 33 lifers!
Slime Moulds - 2 species (2 predicted) 1 lifer
Protists - 1 species (5 predicted) 1 lifer, it being my very first protist
Lichens - 55 species (60 predicted) 16 lifers
Fungi - 96 species (50 predicted) 37 lifers
Bryophytes - 55 species (60 predicted) 22 lifers
Vascular plants - 273 species (140 predicted) 19 lifers
Sponges - 1 species (2 predicted)
Cnidarians - 3 species (5 predicted)
Molluscs - 40 species (50 predicted) 8 lifers
Bryozoans - 8 species (8 predicted) 2 lifers
Annelids - 9 species (15 predicted) 4 lifers
Platyhelminths - 6 species (7 predicted) 2 lifers
Arachnids - 26 species (20 predicted) 4 lifers
Myriapods - 12 species (15 predicted) 2 lifers
Crustaceans - 10 species (20 predicted) 1 lifer
Springtails - 4 species (4 predicted) 1 lifer
Bristletails - 1 species (1 predicted)
Odonata - 1 species (3 predicted)
Orthoptera - 1 species (4 predicted)
Hemiptera - 22 species (45 predicted) 11 lifers
Hymenoptera - 12 species (40 predicted) 10 lifers
Coleoptera - 37 species (70 predicted) 19 lifers
Diptera - 62 species (60 predicted) 32 lifers
Butterflies - 5 species (6 predicted)
Moths - 93 species (140 predicted - assuming use of a light-trap, which I didn't have) 12 lifers
Other Insects - Lacewings 1, Stoneflies 3, Caddisflies 1 = 5 species (20 predicted) 4 lifers
Echinoderms - 1 species (4 predicted)
Tunicates - 0 species (4 predicted)
Fish - 7 species (10 predicted) 2 lifers
Amphibians - 1 species (2 predicted)
Reptiles - 0 species (2 predicted)
Birds - 94 species (90 predicted)
Mammals - 10 species (10 predicted)
Others (Nemerteans) - 1 species (1 predicted)

Total of 243 lifers out of 1000 species

The Losses -
Despite being full of hope for tackling beetles, bugs and aculeates this year, I really didn't do very well with them at all. And it's not as though I anticipated high totals for any of these groups. What a flop! Though a quick squint at the numbers will show that well over half of the handful of species I did see were lifers for me. Massive gains could be had in these three groups alone. And expecting 5 protists, was I actually mad? The complete lack of reptiles was a surprise, I felt certain I'd at least see a Common Lizard at some point. Odonata and orthoptera are two other groups mysteriously scarce up here. One of each is just shocking! The sea itself proved surprisingly disappointing, I fell short on each of my cnidarian, tunicate, echinoderm, crustacean, fish and sponge targets - but this was most probably down to my own lack of effort in low tide explorations. They're all out there, I just need to try harder. The other big under-achiever was moths, but that's entirely expected seeing as I anticipated using a light-trap and never actually did. 

The Gains -
I completely and utterly smashed my predicted tallies for plants and algae. The plant total was almost double that which I'd given at the start of the challenge, likewise the algae tally was not far short of being double the predicted total. I surprised myself with attaining almost 100 species of fungi, though a disproportionate number were host-specific micro-fungi. The macro-fungi are still largely beyond my abilities. Arachnids were slightly ahead of the predicted tally as were birds whilst diptera was at almost exactly the anticipated total. 

The Future -
I now know that 1000 species can be attained by blindly fumbling and bumbling in circles throughout the year. Having only arrived on Skye four weeks prior to the start of this year, I had no previous experience to work from, no insider gen, no real idea of what to expect. I only had one really decent session at lowest tides, way back in January when the lovely Aimée Pixie Girl was still here. March was the first time I'd seen flowers starting to bloom on the woodland floor. April was the first time I'd seen leaves on trees. It was May before the summer migrant birds started returning. I didn't discover the Sphagnum bog until late July. But now I have twelve months experience under my natural history belt - and that 'masterful plan' as mentioned in the previous post. So yeah, I have some thoughts regards the coming twelve months. 

2018 will be like no other year in natural history, not that I've ever experienced anyway. Only another ten days to go.....

Here's a short video of a tardigrade found hiding in a Sphagnum sample last week. Tardigrades are proper hardcore little beasties. They've been frozen to absolute zero and revived, been subjected to intense radiation and survived, been squished by huge pressures and come bouncing back, they've even been put in an absolute vacuum and come out the other side fighting fit. My own thoughts are that tardigrades are not indigenous to this planet, but are panspermia travellers. They've already been rocketed into space and been subjected to solar radiation, proving that life can exist out there.

However, as this clip shows, flip one onto its back and it's fucked!


  1. Now I'm curious about 2018. I've only got 11 days left to come up with a plan I can attack on 1st Jan!

  2. Many congrats on reaching your 1000 target. Have a cool Yule.