For context i am an enthusiastic amateur. Recently I’ve been into observing Casuarina glauca galls.
There’s one type of gall ( Selitrichodes) for which there is only one observation aside from my observations. And no-one has confirmed any of my Selitrichodes observations yet. Yet they seem locally plentiful.
Even weirder - there are other C.glauca galls that are locally very common and quite striking and lovely in form ( though tiny) but no one seems to know what they are beyond ‘wasp’. I can’t work out how many species are involved here, but it seems like more than one.
It blows my mind a bit because Casuarina glauca is possibly the most common tree in and around my city. They are everywhere, whole swampy forests of them and they line the highways. Everywhere galls! It is pretty much impossible to find Casuarina without mysterious galls. I keep wondering if I’m missing something. Can these galls really be so overlooked?
As someone without access to the resources a professional might have i’m not sure there’s much more i can do but make observations and wait? I’ve kinda hit a brick wall in terms of further ID.
Anyway I’m sure other folks must feel a similar kind of insanity/ loneliness/ awe about observations they make. I’d like to hear from anyone that can relate.
Hang in there! Better yet, try to enjoy the knowledge that biodiversity is so vast that we each could get lost in our own little corner of it if we wanted to. Only a handfull of iNat users have taken more than a few observations of C.glauca, so I’m guessing you are indeed the only one into their galls. Which means you are making a unique and valuable contribution. But it doesn’t mean you can’t find community. This project: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australian-galls might be a good place to look for advice or identifiers.
Some of these papers: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=casuarina+glauca+galls&btnG= might help you with ID, and generally all you need to gain access is a friend (or fellow naturalist) associated with any university.
Don’t be afraid to tag identifiers who might happen to know something in the comments in observations. The worst thing that will happen is they won’t know.
And don’t be afraid to discover new things. With things like galls, some people end up looking for the expert in their niche until they realize they’ve become that expert. There are surely undescribed species among all the variation you are seeing.
I live in a village in Central Botswana and share your fascination with galls. It’s great when after sometimes after 2 years I get an ID from another gall enthusiast. There is so much to be discovered especially further north in Africa. Galling with iNaturalist is so exciting !
I am very lucky that here in North America there is a very active iNaturalist project, Galls of North America. I have learned a great deal about galls from the people who are active in that traditional project. I see that you’re starting a project on the galls of Casuarina - great! You might even consider a project for all galls in your country or continent (I’m not sure where that is), because it’s more likely to get more people interested in learning about galls in your area.
Thread title edit to match your and many others’ enthusiasm: “The galls are making me CRAZY EAGER TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THEM”
Sadly many of the smaller sized fauna and flora tend to be overlooked in general. I think it is a combination of that plus a limited number of people studying them in their own specific regions. This also makes the number of reliable identifiers also quite small. Especially in terms of identification, I imagine the process involves any version of: finding gall —> finding arthropod that created said gall —> identifying said arthropod —> associating said arthropod with said gall, and I won’t be surprised if that is a time consuming process. Not to mention different life stages. But there’s nothing wrong with continuing to post these observations. In fact I’d encourage it. Someone with the knowledge may eventually see it.
Hi! Can confirm this is a very widespread pattern, Dryocosmus minusculus is common-ish here in California but there are only 5 research papers about it on Google Scholar (and a significant fraction of them only mention it in passing). Furthermore many of the parks that I know contain it show little to no iNat data for its existence.
It’s called Uncharismatic Microfauna/flora bias in case you weren’t aware.
Thank you so much for the generous encouragment, this is just what I needed to hear. I’m feeling more sane now.
I quite recently discovered the Australian galls project and have been eagerly contributing. I admit I have been a little shy about tagging experts, I’ll give that a go.
Thank you for that Google link! It may take me a little while but I think i can find a University associated person. I’m definitely hopeful there might be some information hidden away there, I’ll find it a bit mind boggling if there’s not.
Yep for now I just have to enjoy the mysteriousness of it all. Thanks so much for the reassurance that I’m not mad for thinking I could be discovering new things.
I’m in Australia and we do have an excellent general galls project to which i’ve become an enthusiastic contributor https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/australian-galls.
Thanks for the project encouragement, i’m hoping it may inspire others to look for glauca galls. Today i’m going to read through all the info and make sure i set it up right.