Changing Definition of Success

When I first started paying serious attention to invertebrates, and began going out into nature with the express purpose of finding them, I did not find very much, to put it simply. Many trips I would head out to seemingly perfect habitat only to find diddly-squat, which was always a disappointing experience. Thankfully, that being six years ago, I am now much more experienced and it seems rare when I don't find something, even in poor habitats. This doubtless is because as I gained experience I began to know what to look for, both in terms of habitat, microhabitat, and then the specimens themselves.

However, I have begun to wonder, as I have become more cognizant of the various invertebrates (and other life forms) around me, has my definition of success in a trip has changed, so that if I had had the same definition when I first started out, I might have "found", or at least remembered finding, a lot more?
To be sure I first became seriously interested in invertebrates when a Grammostola porteri tarantula was given to me; amongst animals there are charismatic life forms, most commonly the various mammals and some birds, but on a smaller scale there are many invertebrates that are charismatic in a sense too. Tarantulas, scorpions, big centipedes, Phidippus jumping spiders, and big beetles all capture the imagination far easier than a mite or a springtail. And so thus when I first began to hunt for invertebrates I believe I was very much prone to a charismatic invertebrate bias, so that if I did not find a tarantula or discover something "valuable" in a broad sense, I didn't find very much at all.

Now my interest has broadened, even as the size of the creatures I pursue seems to continue to shrink as I search for obscure, small species, and while finding a tarantula is nice, observing an Anystis mite feeding on an even smaller mite is almost, if not more, as exciting. I count seeing Harpogonopus confluentus in the wild for the first time as much as a success as finding multiple Bothriocyrtum californicum burrows. Ammopelmatus are cool, but did you see those Mrymecophilous??

Success hinges no longer on whether I find some impressive macroinvertebrate, but really whether or not I find something "interesting" in a much broader sense at all. And I wonder how many more successes I would have had if I had had this knowledge of other invertebrates going into my searches as a neophyte, or even the general desire to look for invertebrates that were not necessarily popular.

The world is far stranger, bigger (and smaller), and more fascinating than charismatic invertebrates would have you believe by themselves. Now, where are those Araeoschizus and palpigrades...



Posted on March 31, 2022 08:37 PM by arthroverts arthroverts


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