Species aggregates?

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Species aggregates?

Hello all!

I'm a new lister and I was wandering if it was appropriate to record a species aggregate as just one tick - specifically Rubus fruticosus, which would otherwise be an easy tick for me. Is there a general consensus? 

As it's been a week without

As it's been a week without any response I'm bumping this

"Only species count as ticks"

It's an interesting subject, if you have a look at 'The Rules' http://www.brc.ac.uk/psl/rules it states that "only species count as ticks", hence your bramble would have to be keyed to microspecies before being countable. Same with Dandelion. Aggregates just don't make the grade.

But The Rules also state, "Be your own judge: Most pan-species listers have their own rigid standards about what they can and can’t count". So nobody is going to kick you out of PSL if you decide that bramble, dandelion, eyebright etc etc are good enough for you. Clearly you know what they are - just not which one.

The really good news is that no matter how long it takes, bramble will be around long enough for you to get the literature and have a go at identifying them. If you want it, it's there for the taking. You just need to key them through.  Get yourself a copy of Stace's New Flora of the British Isles, really is a magnificent work. The latest edition will cost you over fifty quid, but there's an old edition currently going for 83pence (seriously!) at https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=20282829097&searchurl=isbn%3D9780521427937%26sortby%3D17%26n%3D100121503

The old edition is still very good, though lots of new arrivals have established since it was published and there has been an awful lot of recent taxonomical changes. It'll sort out your pesky brambles for you though. Personally I'd say that if you want to get into plants and could only have two books on them, make Stace one of them (with maybe something like the Collins for a field guide).

Finally there is the BSBI Atlas of British and Irish Brambles which is available to buy at https://www.summerfieldbooks.com/atlas-of-british-and-irish-brambles~225

I realise I homed in on the bramble facet of your question, but overall I think there's enough 'other species' out there to be getting on with for now without worrying about difficult 'aggs'. Why try to squeeze an extra tick or two out of it when you can do them properly over time?



I work differently. I would tick a genus or family I have not seen before, even if it is impossible to get it to species. But I remove that tick once I've identified something to a more specific level. 

For instance, if I have never seen Rosaceae, and I can't identify further, I will tick as Rosaceae. If I identify something as Rubus, I will remove the Rosaceae tick and then tick Rubus. And so on.

Why? Because what's wrong with ticking a species you haven't seen before? Just because you can't name it, doesn't mean you haven't seen it. It is logical to me to tick aggregates, genera or even order levels if you have not seen anything under that classification before.

The only reason why you wouldn't is if you wanted to really strictly abide by specific classifications that we have determined as humans. Nothing wrong with that, but it leads to disappointment at yet another "genus only" ID. The hobby shouldn't be like that, in my opinion, since the goal is to count all species you have seen.


PS. if you force the idea of only ticking species on people, then you end up with lots of "guesses" so they can count things on their list. That's not good form and can easily lead to bad records, false data, etc. 

I agree. Kind of...

I think it's good practice to do your best with a mystery specimen, but if it transpires that 'your best' means you can't progress it any further than family level then that's fine and quite acceptable. There are a multitude of very valid reasons why a percentage of your finds will never be identified. You may not have the literature, or magnification, it could be immature, non-fruiting, the wrong sex to gen det, a hybrid, the spores may be unripe, the thallus may be damaged, the list goes on. 

At that point, where you can't progress to species level, then yes you can 'tick' the genus. As you say, you've seen it and recognised the family. It's not as if these things don't exist unless specifically identified.

BUT - for the purposes of this particular website - only specimens identified to species level should be added to your PSL tally. There are various approaches taken by different members, only living specimens can be counted vs dead specimens are allowed, or only specimens identified by yourself count vs specimens someone else identifies for you count too etc etc. But the one thing that everybody (as far as I'm aware) has in common is that their PSL tally consists of organisms that have been identified to species level.

How you choose to keep/submit your observations is entirely up to you and nobody can say otherwise (or is trying to say otherwise). I have a list of stuff I've seen that I haven't gotten past family level, microscopic pondlife for example. I love watching the tiny animals and algae whirring around in a few drops of water. No idea what most of them are but I still enjoy just watching them. Being unable to name these microscopic creatures doesn't detract from the magic of watching them, and of course I'd love to be able to identify them properly but I can't. Hence they haven't made it onto my PSL.

I'm enjoying this exchange, it's just a real pity it isn't as instant as FB. It's taken over two months for these six comments to be made :(  ADMIN - can we get email notifications when comments are made? Or a notification when we log in? Is this possible at all?





Another unpopular opinion

I would tick hybrids if I hadn't seen either parent species. All of this is just my opinion that in counting all species you've seen, all species should be counted even if you don't know their name. Ok, so maybe the hybrid example is a little separate.


PS. how's the facebook page? I can never get accepted to it.

FB Page

Booming mate, no idea why you don't get accepted. Try it again?

Ticking species, or branches on the evolutionary tree?

Months late but I ought to comment as it was me who decide on The Rules of Pan-species Listing (with a little bit of consultation)!

PSL is about listing species (rather than genera, families, orders, or other higher taxonomic units) partly because identification to species is what we should aim for as naturalists. Conservationists work to conserve species, not families. Ecologists study the ecology of a species, not a family. Biological recording collects records of species because these are the data that conservation and ecology need.

That PSL is about listing species also reflects my background in birding where ID to species is a reasonable target. If I'd spent my formative years staring down a compound microscope at drops of pond water, I might have been a bit more sympathetic to the notion that an ID to, say, family could be quite an achievement, and as far as you can reasonably get.

This discussion did come up at the time, with Neil Fletcher proposing that we should list to as far down the evolutionary tree/ taxonomic hierarchy as we could go.

I take the point that "if you force the idea of only ticking species on people, then you end up with lots of 'guesses' so they can count things on their list. That's not good form and can easily lead to bad records, false data, etc." but on the other hand, we might encourage more naturalists to make the extra effort to study/ collect/ dissect/ sequence/ seek expert help and end up with a species-level identification, rather than give up at family.

I do spend the vast majority of my listing effort on groups where I know I can get to species-level identifications. Which means I tend to neglect pondlife, lots of soil microfauna, Parasitica, algae, marine stuff. Like Seth, I'd say I try to appreciate the full diversity of wildlife, but I'm really focussed on recording to species level.

You have a very exciting and

You have a very exciting and educational site, I'm glad that I became a member of your community


I’m a new lister on PSL so this may have been answered but what is the line on unoccupied shells eg. on the beach. Is it any different to counting a gall wasp from just the gall?