I sometimes find myself defending why I study obscure and strange little animals. Questions such as “what good are they” are asked of me. I sometimes get weird looks when I describe what it is like discovering new distribution records of a tiny jumping spider, or the thrilling anticipation of turning over a rock to see what hides underneath. I have to remind myself that not everyone is fascinated by the natural world. I also think it is worthwhile reminding myself why I study small animals. Here is a list:
I study these animals because they are there even if we can’t always see them.
I study these animals because they are unknown, and stir up a sense of curiosity, wonder and awe; their biology is as amazing as any other species.
I study these animals because they play important roles in their ecosystems; roles that we have yet to fully understand.
I study these animals because they are one piece of a giant biodiversity puzzle – they are as interesting and fascinating as primates, blue whales, oak trees, honey bees, or coral reefs.
I study small animals because they are giants in their own world; size is relative.
I study these animals because they are beautiful; they are a landscape painting; they are a a Bach Cello Suite; they are millimetres of perfection.
I study these animals because they have a history; a history as great as their larger cousins; they are evolution exemplified.
I study these animals because nobody else does.
What are your reasons for studying small, strange animals?
(thanks to Crystal Ernst for the stunning photographs of Wyochernes asiaticus – these photos were taken on our recent field trip to the Yukon)