What are some taxa that always get you excited whenever you come across them but have very few people actually interested in them or that know anything about them? For me, I’m pretty interested by mollusks and get happy to find some things that most people don’t pay attention to, like native land snails. I love that there’s lots of naturalists who are interested in organisms most people walk by without giving a second thought, let alone even notice them!
Tipulidae, e.g. Nephrotoma, there’re tons of experts for short-antennae diptera, but for tipulids it’s impossible to find an expert and most observations also come from people just seeing a big insect once or twice.
Lichen, especially small ones only visible with a hand lens!
Snails always retract there eyes when I try to take a picture, so I wait 10 minutes for them to open them again but they don’t and so I leave in frustration without an observation. Lichen on the other hand are very nice, holding perfectly still for me
I like micromollusks, but most people don’t even know they exist.
I love to see Eyed Beetles (because it is a rare, amazing sight), and I love the many Species of Slugs and Snails.
If you are talking about land snails, pouring a little bit of water on them from your water bottle and then waiting a minute or two will usually cause them to become fully active.
Anything micro- is so easy to miss, I focus on small (and large) beetles now, many common species have less than 50 observations with destribution across the continent, you just don’t see them unless you look, or look closely at night.
I’m a big fan of grasses and sedges. The diversity in these groups is just spectacular. Once you start looking at Carex in the Eastern US and realize that there are so many species and each has its own habitat it likes, it blows you away.
And now I’m entirely sucked into a project with tropical grasses, especially and Andropogonoids which have taken this one shared spikelet structure and modified in in hundreds of different ways, moreso than any other group of grasses IMO even though they are relatively young compared to other grass lineages.
I only recently even learned what springtails are, and outside of hobby vivarium keepers or arthropod-leaning naturalists I rarely if ever hear them mentioned, so that’s definitely one that seems less talked about to me. I saw a couple of globular springtails on a tree a few months ago, probably Dicyrtomina, and basically fell in love with the little things.
I get why. I have a couple of small samples of micromollusks (I think) that I collected from the shore but I’m lost when it comes to trying to photograph them. My macro photography is getting better but getting good shots of things the size of a grain of sand or two eludes me.
Micromoths. I’m still trying to find out how best to find and photograph them let alone ID them. I’ve found books that document micromoths from the UK but nothing for the PNW.
I loved your enthusiasm for my hastily made grass observation from a layover at HNL: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/141403519
Fungi, Fungi and more Fungi. they are so intricate but yet very few people look into them.
You need a good shot of the wing, so you need to be parallel to it (not just on the side), for most species that is enough, and if you can’t id from a wing, you can’t id from any photo without checking genitals.
Most recently, I have begun to pay attention to the putative diversity of dandelions rather than just calling them all Taraxacum officinale. Fairly recently, I developed a thing for hammerhead worms. But I haven’t forgotten my earlier thing for pseudoscorpions.
Ctenophores. A whole phylum, only 5,906 observations with 62 species, so far, on iNaturalist. Only 34 people have helped to identify more than 20 observations each. Beautiful to see and watch in real life. GBIF has recordings of 18,483 occurrences and 233 species. I was fortunate enough to observe several individuals of one species that had not been observed yet on iNat and its photographic image record on the internet was scant (personally at the time I could find nothing but that could have been more my limitation). I started my fascination with this phylum back in 1986 when I was taking an undergrad invertebrate biology overview course and we had to create project worth a considerable amount of our course weight.
Ripiphorus beetles. Rare bee nest parasites with room for new research and undescribed species. Rather than retelling my encounters, here are previous comments I left on the subject:
What is your Favorite Lifer from this week? - Nature Talk - iNaturalist Community Forum
“Like Finding a Unicorn” - Nature Talk - iNaturalist Community Forum
Random Nature Encounters and Stories - Nature Talk - iNaturalist Community Forum
I’d say just about anything too small or otherwise insignificant to be noticed by the “casual” observer. In your post, you specify “fauna”, but actually one of my great enthusiasms is those small and insignificant flowering plants that even most botanists walk by without a second glance. There’s so much to be discovered and rediscovered out there and not all of it is on our easy-to-observe scale!
That’s pretty cool! I edited my post to be more inclusive and reworded fauna to organisms.
I agree completely. In almost any lifer list, if you filter for the ‘rarest’ in terms of observations, there’s a direct correlation to specimen size where the smallest dominate the charts.
That’s a big reason why I moved to a super-macro field setup this winter as soon as I found a way to do it practically, fairly reliable, and (most challenging) within a modest budget.
Right now, I am really chomping at the bit for all those tiny world denizens to fully emerge.
Even with the right optics and gear, it’s still a challenge to capture most of this stuff. And what I find even more astounding is the number of even tinier flying/hopping specks of life you encounter while trying to get the shots in at the 1-2mm level. Most (alas), far too nimble and skittish for these old eyes to track for any time longer than an eyeblink.
When I started with iNat last June, I remember noticing how soon I was getting slower and slower on my trips, and yet I was spending even more time covering a fraction of the trails.
I suspect that this season I’ll be measuring a lot of my excursion lengths with a tape measure!
It does show you another advantage of going real small. Not only are your conversations rarer, it’s incredible how many of them can be done literally, in your own backyard.
Maybe next year I’ll just get a chair and wait for the show to come to me.