How many species?

, 30 January 2021
How many species?
22 Spot Ladybird © Glenn Norris

By Glenn Norris

Reserves Ecologist 

As the Ecologist at the Sussex Wildlife Trust I carry out a lot of wildlife surveys, which generally means that I need to be able to identify a wide variety of species from big things like birds and plants to tiny things like spiders and beetles.

I do my best to record and identify everything I see, but often I need help, partly for identification, but also to be able to get around all of the reserves in East and West Sussex.

At this time of year most plants and bugs aren’t out and about yet so I use this time to check what everybody has been seeing on our reserves which is important for us to see how healthy they are. I keep a huge spreadsheet of all of the species that have ever been recorded on our reserves, and after the latest update last week the total species seen on Sussex Wildlife Trust Reserves sits at 10,433.

Mens mar 2020

The Mens Nature Reserve

This massive number includes mammals, slime moulds, reptiles, springtails, birds and pseudoscorpions. It also includes records for species collected over 140 years ago, such as the Yellow Ants’-nest Beetle found on Malling Down in 1887. Unbelievably, this is the only record for this species on any of our reserves.

Since I joined the Trust in July 2019, the list has grown by 141 species and it doesn’t show any signs of stopping as the number of new species found has been increasing over the last 18 months.

However much I try though, I will never be able to identify over 10,000 species all by myself and that is why the recording community in Sussex is so important. Over the last nine months a WHOPPING 50,986 records were submitted just from the reserves. Imagine how many were submitted from the whole of Sussex. And all of these records eventually make their way to me (even after 134 years in some cases).

Nowadays it is really easy for you to enter a record of something you see whilst on your walks wherever you are. There is a website called iRecord where you can enter records for the birds you see in the garden, the fox in your park or the spider in your house. Just take a picture and upload with your name, the date and the location. Simple as that. 

If you’re out and about then you could download the iRecord app and do it all from your phone, so the next time you see that Blackbird or Roe Deer and you happen to be on one of our reserves, enter that record and I’ll see it when I do the next update to our enormous species list. Who knows, you may even find the 10,433rd species for the reserves.

Leave a comment


  • Colin Whiteman:

    Hi Glenn,
    Is the county list of species on all websites available to download by members?

    Sussex Wildlife Trust works in partnership with Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre (SxBRC), so that we have access to the most comprehensive information possible on our county’s flora, fauna and funga. The reserves species spreadsheet contains a huge amount of data, including information on the presence of sensitive species; so it’s a valuable tool to guide our survey & monitoring and reserve management, but not something we make generally available. Underlying data comes from a range of sources and is regularly updated by SxBRC. SxBRC runs a data request service which is available to anyone who has a need to access ecological data & information – so if you have an interest in a particular site or taxonomic group, Sussex Wildlife Trust would encourage you to use that service. Requests should be submitted via the form on the website - Charges depend on the purpose for which the data is being used, if it’s for academic research or personal interest then there is no charge.

    04 Feb 2021 13:47:00

  • Alan Kenworthy:

    What about plants and flowers? I don’t think I’ve ever had a plant that I’ve entered in iRecord verified. The botanical community seems to eschew iRecord which is a shame when plants have such an impact on all the other species

    You're right Alan. Plant records aren’t verified on iRecord so these need to be submitted directly to the SxBRC . Glenn

    04 Feb 2021 16:25:00

  • Cherry Lavell:

    Helvella fungi seen for second year running on our meadow-side path running parallel to road between Bede’s School and Berwick Station. May be common for all I know but an interesting form.

    04 Feb 2021 16:39:00