Satisfying your Curiosity...What would you research?

We all have things we are curious about popping in and out of our mind but few of us have the time, money, or persistence to pursue a PhD. :)

If you had the time, money and focus, what would you like to research or see someone else research?
Or what do you think would be good to study?

Example:
To what extent does dust from dirt roads accumulating on flowers affect pollinators or pollination? (I’ve noticed this on some highly trafficked dirt roads in places like national parks even).

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I’d be really jazzed to see somebody do a sufficient and proper study into the differences between Lycalopex gymnocercus and Lycalopex griseus, if there truly are any. Some people believe and treat them as the same species, while others are very passionate about them being separate. I treat them as essentially the same but will ID separately based on the established and accepted ranges. It would be great to have some official clarity on it, instead of having it be one’s opinion vs another’s, but such is life.

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Pleiotropic effects of floral color in Zeltnera venusta.

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I’m dreaming of the day when we can walk around with Star Trek tricorters which can just DNA scan everything (to find hybrids and such). But I imagine there would still be debate about genetic similarity and definitions.

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I would love love love to do more research into Phylliidae. They’re my all time favorite insect, and I’ve had the opportunity (and will get the opportunity to in the future!) to work with Royce Cumming on some absolutely amazing research, and I’ve had a ton of fun doing it. I’m not entirely sure what specifically I would research, but I’d like to know their full evolution, seeing as the furthest (and currently only known fossil record) back we can trace them is about 50mya. I would love to know what trees they specifically are trying to mimic, but I’d really truly love to explore their diversity in New Caledonia. There are a couple species out there but I would love to know how many are truly hiding in the forests, and based on observations such as https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/100125835, I’d like to know their true range of colors.

Oh, speaking of colors, I think most people that rear (or are just generally interested in, like me!) would love to find out how they get their coloration. In captivity we’ve seen ranges of deep red to bright yellow, any everything in-between, but with that recent observation it makes you think could it be something else? I know Royce has especially done some research into this (I forget which YT video it was he discussed it in, if I find it I’ll edit the link here!), and it was something really interesting about the chemicals or something that were making the leaves that color were being kinda obsorbed by the leaf insects. I don’t know. I just really, really love leaf insects. Sorry! Hahaha

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Anything substantial on Australian Ichneumonidae or Chalcidoidea. There’s so little out there already yet they are abundant and varied and provide a multitude of ecological benefits.

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Anything about Geosesarma lol. They’re such interesting little crabs that are insanely diverse across southeast asia, would love to see very in depth research into their diversity (loads of undescribed species), ecology of all of them, all that cool stuff

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What routes do jaegers and Sabine’s Gulls use to travel over North America between the tundra and the ocean? I’m even curious to know in detail how the common Ring-billed and Herring Gulls in my city spend their lives.

So many undescribed neotropical Toxomerus hover flies that need attention, and I’m sure many other insect groups have even less coverage.

Developing the ability to use computer vision and drone video footage to survey birds or other larger animals remotely. I think some work might be happening on this currently for shorebirds…

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Research into which methods are best for determining location and type of wildlife corridors for roads and highways. aka ecosystem fragmentation problems.

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Research on cloning recently extinct animals and bring them back from extinction. That will be something impressive. It may be difficult. Imagine bringing back the dinosaurs. Plant cloning may be more feasible. I was growing orchids in-vitro micropropagation 15 years ago as a hobby. When I grow from seeds, there is no cloning involved. The cloning part is a level up, but I think there are groups out there doing plant cloning.

I want to know whether old-growth or secondary growth coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) forests accumulate carbon at a higher rate in biomass and soils.

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Are yard-based dandelions evolving and adapting to the regular mowing they receive? Not earth-shattering, but it’s a fairly simple window into human impact on development.

Hypothesis: Human yard maintenance has led to an adaptation in dandelions. The early growth pattern of stalks has altered as a method of minimizing loss.

What spurred it: Looking closely at the dandelions in my yard and in parks, their flower and seed stalks are growing out horizontally to a good length, but not elevating until they are close to opening. When I see dandelions in the wild, the stalks are growing vertically even in the early stages. Anecdotally, it’s something that seems like a change and i’d love to have the time to dig in and do a proper study.

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@evpink Welcome to the Forum!
I would like to research if it’s possible to predict crop infestations of Mythimna unipuncta in Canada based on migration times and first capture. The moths migrate here, and sporadic crop damage can happen. Designing some sort of simple monitoring system (perhaps continent wide?) could be used to alert farmers of the potential for an outbreak.
I’ve actually got lots of things I would like to research, but that’s the first one that came to mind!

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I really want to know how we can take full advantage of the medicinal properties of all plants, at least in my native range. I’m pretty sure all plants have a medicinal potential, but seeing as to how this topic is too general, that would be difficult. I also want to research/study the phylogeny/ancestry of some plant genera and families, most especially our native aroids.

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There are a few studies on this actually and MOST trees exponentially sequester more carbon the larger they get. If you think about it logically too, the ring widths can be the same thickness but you have a larger circumference. So it logically makes sense that each year, the larger a tree is, the more carbon it sucks in for growth.
Here is one study I saw while trying to find a better one I know of. I have unpublished research on this topic as well showing that fire suppression treatments benefit some trees carbon sequestering but reduce other tree species carbon sequestering.
Biggest Trees Sequester the Most Carbon, Study Reveals | BuildingGreen

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But many trees, in Europe at least, rot from the inside as they age, so they are also releasing carbon. Heart rot is apparently advantageous to the tree, in that the loss of strength by changing from a rod into a cylinder is more than compensated by becoming lighter. Plus of course heart rot provides habitat for hundreds of species of insect, many now rare because commercial forests are harvested before heart rot sets in.

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I suspect what you are seeing is a long-lived perennial showing plasticity in response to environmental effects rather than evolution, but I could be wrong. It would be an easy experiment.

The trees I study don’t typically get heart rot but those studies look at hundreds of tree species around the world. Might be something in there about that. Even with the rot, a lot of carbon is still there while the tree grows around the outside. Good questions though.

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I’d like to see someone study the North American population of Great Tit.

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Lots of jaegers are seen on the Great Lakes in fall.

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