Some excellent points, especially this one! It happens to adults, too.
We have a species of spider here in NZ, the katipo, and when I first went looking for it, I was aware it was a legally protected species. Letter of the law says you can’t interfere with them at all, and given where they occur, you can’t find them without some level of interference. Mindful of that law, but still eager to see one in real life, I went looking and have made a few observations over the years. I’m always a little panicked that one day I’ll be arrested for my tampering with the spiders!
The katipo only has a very narrow habitat along the foreshore, in fairly specific plants, and has a number of introduced predators. Particularly here in Gisborne where I live, we are at a point where there is a clinal change in forms, and given climate change concerns, populations near interfaces of two forms like this could be significant studies. With that in mind I have been keen to get a study going of the spiders in these dunes and further along the coastline. I am an amateur, of very limited means and influence, and consequently have had little momentum in that regard. I could just jump in and do it, but the legal protection status has me “wanting to do it proper”.
About a month ago I became aware that a new walkway has been approved, which will extend right through these dunes, the entire length of the beach where I have found them. The nature of the walkway will involve significant vibration during it’s installation, and that vibration will very likely have a devastating impact on these spiders. If I had just gone ahead with my amateur survey of that beach 2 years ago, the data would be there to advise the council on this situation today. As it stands, it is unclear how extensive the colony that I found is, nor what the full impact of the walkway would be.
Many of your other points, too… go to a need to understand the environment better. For me, the comment I made about spreading spores was with the Kauri dieback that we are experiencing in mind. In Northland New Zealand we have a culturally significant tree that is under threat from an introduced pathogen that is being spread rapidly by trampers/visitors, and large areas of reserves have been closed to the public until there is more knowledge and control around it’s impact. But yes… we are beneficial pollinators and transport mechanisms within the environment, too. Again, it comes down to knowledge about our impacts. Unlike the deer and the mice, we can move sporses and such over tremendous distances, and unlike herding buffalo, we don’t stick to fairly traditional migration patterns, so our ability to impact the environment in a negative or disruptive way is huge.
Perhaps more important than “treading lightly” in the environent is the need to “learn about and value” our position within it? iNats mission starts to look more on-point… :)