Pantheon is a database tool developed by Natural England and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology to analyse invertebrate sample data. The analyses supported by Pantheon will improve understanding of the resources and structures used by invertebrates within the sample locations and aid their conservation.
Users import lists of invertebrates (called “samples”) into Pantheon, which then matches the species to the preferred name in the UK Species inventory before analysing the sample, attaching associated habitats and resources, assemblage types (adapted from the Invertebrate Species-habitat Information System [ISIS]), conservation status, habitat fidelity scores and other information against them. The analysis then displays a lot of this data as numerical scores. This information can be used to determine site quality by revealing whether the species list is indicative of good quality habitat, inform on species ecology and assist in management decisions by revealing the key ecological resources. Pantheon will also help to establish a shared terminology for describing invertebrate interest which will greatly augment invertebrate nature conservation.
Not all the macro-invertebrate taxa are included in the database. To date over c13,000 species have been typed, this being about a quarter of the total macro-invertebrate fauna (estimated at 37,000). It remains limited to those taxa and families where there is enough ecological information to give a fair level of coding accuracy. These include species such as beetles, flies, true bugs, moths, bees and many more. A list of groups covered can be found on the Taxon groups page (under the Data menu). Pantheon focuses on species primarily found in England.
Pantheon does not cover:
- the fully marine environment, although though it does cover lagoons, brackish water and saltmarsh.
- species not in England and has increasingly limited application to the rest of the British Isles and near continental Europe.
Pantheon also includes additional information such as conservation status and feeding guilds.
Pantheon has been developed from ISIS, which was born from a requirement for Natural England to undertake monitoring. Its original purpose was to use strict survey protocols to sample for notified invertebrate assemblages (e.g. a dead wood assemblage recognised in a SSSI citation). It was created by Derek Lott in Microsoft Excel and has been subsequently updated, although it has never been properly published. It has been used in a great number of ways – far more than its original design intended. Some of these uses have been very innovative; others have strayed into misuse.
In 2012, Natural England gathered comments from users. One of the main comments was that species could not easily be matched to more than one assemblage type and that this had meant that some species had been ‘shoe-horned’ into just one category.
A decision was taken to create a new version of ISIS, later re-named as Pantheon. It would not be solely linked to monitoring sites, would address problems raised in ISIS and would be available online.
The present and the future
Pantheon was launched as a first version in April 2018. Initially, the system will be maintained with no further changes. Comments will be gathered and its use monitored, and it is anticipated that this will lead to a further review and potential for further change.