A friend of mine is working on a report about the affect of opencast mining on bio-diversity, and the biggest piece of data is a thorough beetle comparison.
Since I did Maths at uni a long time ago, he's come to me to assess the relative beetle biodiversity of his different samples.
I've googled it and found a paper by Leinster and Cobbold ('Measuring diversity: the importance of species similarity') that tells me the Maths that I need.
My problem is that it wants a number between 0 and 1 to indicate how similar each pair of beetle species are to each other (1= the same, 0 = totally different).
I have got the family name of all 84 species, and have got as far as guessing 0.7 when the two species are in the same family, and 0.3 if they are in a different family.
BUT - and this is where I get to the question - I'd like to factor in basic things like what they eat, how big they are, what the larvae eat.
Is there an internet site that will let me look up this kind of stuff about any UK beetle in a standardised way?
I have an insect book, but it hasn't got them all in - I had no idea that there were so many sorts of beetle in the UK!
Thanks for the reply, that looks useful in that it would help me to classify the species into sub-families, which would be a good start.
I've discovered an old program called BiodiversityPro that was created by a Scottish Marine body that sounds very good, but the website has a warning that it might not work too well in a recent Windows, so I'm dubious about it. It wouldn't have any Beetle data in it anyway, it would just save me from re-inventing the wheel with the maths.
However I do the maths, I'd still like to get hold of a beetle database if there is such a thing, so that each species gets a standard description that places it in an ecological and taxonomic niche. I could google each of them, but apart from taking ages each description would talk in different terms.
There's the UK checklist of beetle species here: http://www.coleopterist.org.uk/checklist2012.pdf
To my knowledge it was comprehensive as of 2012 and that'll give you sub-family, tribe, sub-tribe and even sub-genus classifications where appropriate.
But with thousands of species of beetle in the UK, many of which are poorly known, we don't really have an idea of the ecological niche for most species beyond the habitats and sometimes the plants where they tend to be found.
Thanks very much; it sounds likely that I've now got everything that I'm going to get on this quest.
It's nice in a way that there is still so much that is unknown right outside the door in the hedgerows, but on the other hand it shows that we've got no idea how important some of these threatened species might turn out to be.
In case anyone else is after ecological ststs packages, I've come across another free one that is still maintained, called EstimateS.