An entomological wish list for the new year
Happy New Year to everyone!
It's that time of year where we write about resolutions and type away on our keyboards with anticipation and hope of all the great things the new year will bring. I did this last year, over at arthropod ecology, and it was a helpful way to benchmark some priorities for the year*.
I thought I would start this year with something a little different: a wish list for entomology for 2014. Let's make this happen, entomophiles!
1) May we continue to discover new things, embrace these mysteries, work to solve them, and share them with the world. Case in point? The marvellous development of story about the "weird Amazon web-tower things": Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 ... and hopefully more to come. We must value natural history as a critical path towards a greater understanding about the natural world. Discoveries await but they require a careful eye, time spent outside, and good science communication.
2) May new arthropod species continue to be described, carefully and correctly. There is a mountain of material out there, and taxonomists have a big job ahead. However, they are also working hard, sharing their findings, and writing about these findings, whether it is re-discovery of species, or new descriptions. There are a lot of biases related to how much profile new descriptions of arthropods get, relative to vertebrates, and entomologists have to work to ensure there is much fanfare when new arthropod species are described.
3) May we continue to have fun, smile and laugh - it's good for us. Let's celebrate entomological oddities such as "Black Fly Day". May we wear our Thripster t-shirts with pride, continue to enjoy time with our friends and colleagues, and relish in the great humour that entomologists bring to this world.
4) May we continue to see stunning photographs of arthropods. Every day I am amazing at the talent of nature photographers, and the ways that these individuals are sharing their art. There are too many good ones to point to, although those of you that follow Expiscor know how much I enjoy work by Adrian, Alex, Sean, and Matt, among others.
5) May we see the monarch butterfly populations rebound, and return. My world will be a much sadder place without these amazing animals. I once heard a talk by Lincoln Brower about monarchs. He made the point that we need to value species and biodiversity in the same way that we value art, making the case that millions of people line up to view the Mona Lisa, and this kind of passion about one piece of art should be transferred to a deep sense of awe for the natural world. Monarchs (and their long-distance flights) are truly a biological phenomenon worthy of our attention.
6) May we continue to share entomological and arachnological passion and expertise with anyone who will listen. Outreach activities are so valuable, whether it's doing a 'bug day', talking with high school students, or blogging about spiders. Although cliché, our future is our children, and anything we can do to help them embrace biology is a good thing. When I see teenagers writing scientific papers, this gives me great hope and optimism about the future.
In sum, I am incredibly excited about 2014. It will bring some exciting changes for me, but these changes won't keep me from blogging about arthropods. I look forward to continue writing and sharing with you here on SciLogs and I hope you will continue to follow along!
* curious about how I did on my resolutions? Well, I did continue to blog, I did finish the opiliones project, I didn't get much time at the microscope, I did manage to publish some papers, I did find a way to "take control" of email, and I *think* I became a better birder, managing about 120 species over the year. This year, I hope to draw birds in addition to watching them. I'll keep on blogging, too.