listing drawbacks and mitigations

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listing drawbacks and mitigations

I've done a lot of listing in my time, mainly birds and plants, and I know it is huge fun and I know it is a good way of getting some grounding in identifying species.  But I also know it has its drawbacks in that very often you see a species, tick it, and move on, and that's it; your only aquaintance, perhaps your only meeting ever, with that species.  I know I've seen over 2000 species of plants in Britain, but how many of them can I really claim familiarity with? I know recording, square bashing as botanist's call it, is actually a better way than listing of getting really familiar with identifying an albeit more limited range of species.  I'm considering another listing type objective which considers not only whether I've listed a species, but how many records I've got for it.  The reasoning being that if you've seen a species x times (with x>1)  you can consider yourself more familiar with it than if you've only seen it once.  And of course its easy to work out how many records you've got for a species if they are in Mapmate.  So I'm pondering some questions.  What should x be? I'm thinking 10 as a nice round number.  If I've seen a species 10 times I reckon I know it.  Which raises the possibility of some new statistics like, what's my "10+ records list"?  What is it for different groups?  What's the ratio of the "10+ record list" to the total list?  And is this a good indicator of how familiar I am with a group.  And will this prevent me from assuming the "that's not a tick, so that's not worth bothering about" mentality.  Well, my first task is to get all my records map-mated.   

Big listers

I know what you're saying. A big list doesn't necessarily mean you're really good at identifying a wide range of species. It would be good to know (though competely impractical!) how many species a person is capable of competently identifying in the field, or of quickly recognising under a microscope without need to consult literature. I know for myself I usually need to record a beetle species a few times before I start remembering all the diagnostic ID characters and recognising it in the field. Or I can achieve the same by just spending time studying it, taking photos, preparing specimens and just letting my brain soak up what it looks like.