What Research Can I / We Help With?

As a ranger I would generally encourage people to make sure they know the rules around specimen collection relative to the species they are collecting and where from. Like here in NZ it is illegal to collect Powelliphanta (large land snails) shells regardless of if the specimen is living or deceased or where you find it. (Empty shells are important in monitoring area where they are). Also a couple years ago a couple collected a shell thinking it was empty travelled with it, and then later found out it had a live snail inside, which is not optimal for endangered species.

That said I love research and the couple times researchers have reached out to me directly have been honoring, and I have collected seeds of Solanum aviculare for one, after checking thier permit. As well as pointing another towards places to find a specific species (though I knew they were measuring and replacing and not taking). I am always happy to be contacted by researchers, and to help where I can.


A very big concern to me too, especially in current chronic drought conditions which are stressing and threatening the survival of many plants, especially if there is any increased sun exposure.

It is actually illegal to collect or damage any plant in a Reserve, I believe. Certainly in the forest, wetland and forest margins of the Reserves in the Auckland Region. And with good reason.

Permits can be obtained from DC, I understand, and weed control can be done by registered volunteers with the required training (unfortunately, the requirements are almost negligible at time of writing, but responsible volunteers can develop their knowledge and skills if they seek out mentors and resources.

Once you start weeding, you get to know what invasive species might be new to an area, hence of interest to museums. When I see what may be a new invasive species, or an unusual vector or growth habit or increased range of distribution, I contact the Auckland Museum and ask if they are interested.

For native plant species, photographic record - without damaging the plant or its surroundings, disturbing habitat or compacting soil - is preferable.

The collection or disturbance of native fauna of any kind is illegal, I believe. We have precious little left as it is.

Any corrections to this re New Zealand is welcome.


Whilst I work for the dept, I am not 100% on all the rules, which is why permit stuff I would always direct to the appropriate person.

" * The Conservation Act 1987 protects plants and animals on public conservation land.

  • The Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 protects all marine mammals.
  • The Wildlife Act 1953 protects all terrestrial vertebrate animals except those specifically excluded or limited in one of the schedules to the act. It also protects some invertebrate and marine fish species declared to be animals for the purposes of the act.
  • The Native Plants Protection Act 1934 allows for national or regional protection of native plant species by a Warrant issued by the Governor-General. It does not infer any general protection of native plants outside national parks and reserves."

We still have a way to go with inverts with only specific species having protection as recognised under the act http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1953/0031/latest/DLM278595.html?search=sw_096be8ed818b7d4c_insect_25_se&p=1&sr=0

This is just my understanding, and may not be fully correct, I would always recomend contacting the relevant local body (where ever a person is) before any form of collection.


Thanks Sebastian. Well, fortunately I have generally managed to refrain from quoting to Reserve users what I believed to be the law. Maybe there is a Council bylaw. Parts of the local forest Reserve I work in, including the hectare I currently restrict myself to, are Department of Conservation ( DOC ) owned, and Council managed.


If you’re thinking about specific taxa, I would add ichneumonid wasps to the list of particularly useful taxa to collect. The diversity is mindboggling and there are a ton of undescribed species in North America. I specifically study the subfamily Ichneumoninae. Most species of ichneumonines have been described from your area, but I don’t doubt some unknown species remain though. I know for a fact there are some undescribed Phaeogenini in your area, at least. Even if you are collecting known species, it is always a great help to systematists to have more specimens and distribution records. Plus, iNat is seriously lacking observations of most species and a decent number of genera. Here are some examples in my collection: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=any&user_id=bclaridge&verifiable=any


Pretty much all fungi anywhere in North America are worth collecting!

There is an active community science project asking for red maple (Acer rubrum) leaves to be submitted from across the US.

More information in this thread: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/community-science-project-help-collect-red-maple-leaves-for-ecological-research/15160

And this website: http://sites.bu.edu/tasper/

In the US specimen collecting is a bit complicated depending on what agency oversees the land (eg. BLM, National Park, State Park, Private Land, etc) and what the specimen is of, but broadly speaking you need a collection permit in most non-private land areas.

Here’s a very rough overview, but you need to check by state and particular land type to be 100% certain collecting is legal where you are.


@herebespiders11 was asking for fungi infecting hover flies (Entomophthora sp.) and @derhennen has an open request for millipedes on his profile.

I’ve attempted to compile a list of all the specific research projects brought up on this thread. Maybe I should make a wiki post out of these later?




Would folks be interested in a wiki thread like the computer vision clean up wiki for research opportunities?

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Yes please :)

I can turn your first post in this topic into a wiki as one option (you might be able to too, not sure).

Would it be better to do that, or to start a new thread? I don’t want to replace the start of this thread with the wiki, but separating the wiki from the discussion that created it also isn’t ideal

Either way works, your choice! If you make a new topic, you could link to this discussion, then we can close this topic so the future discussion area isn’t split over two places.

Yeah wiki post would be great.

More of a question than an answer. Are you looking for photos, or for physical specimens? In my experience, there are few preserved physical specimens on iNat.

@mamestraconfigurata Are you addressing me?

And here we go, I made the wiki over here

I think we should be good to wrap up this thread, then?

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Contribute to the new wiki topic: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/opportunities-to-assist-researchers-wiki/16615