What are you doing this for?

Hey. Lately I had a bit of a stressful time with my thesis. Is the data going to arrive? When? How should I plan my fieldwork without having a look at the data? At one point I decided to change my topic and not wait any longer. And then some new excitement arose.

Some exciting topic that I was thinking about and hoping for earlier came back to me (in a bit twisted, magical way, but here I make it short). Distribution of two spider species, Dolomedes fimbriatus and Dolomedes plantarius. How do their habitats differ in terms of vegetation, in which habitats and circumstances can they overlap? The big question of the overall project: Do they move their distribution northwards, what are they doing in a changing world (climate, land use, loss of wetlands)?

This is a riparian habitat in Belarus, where I saw many aquatic spider species. Now it is time again to put on my rubber boots for that kind of expeditions in Norway! 🙂

Spiders always have been my «most loved child» (its a saying in German, sounds a bit strange in English) among animals. Now I am studying «Applied ecology». Sheep and cows, that I have been working on until now a lot, are very «applied» in some way, in human terms. They are «made» to be used and to be eaten. But what is applied about those spiders?

That 1) most people do not even know about,  2) most people are not at all interested in, and 3) many people are even horrified of ? And why should I study them? Is it even justified to spend my time with this, while my parents and the government are funding me?

The answer  to this question lies for me on several levels:

  • The level of meaning for our existence: Conservation ecology is a very important branch of applied ecology, but more on the «roots» of our existence: our overall dependence on biodiversity, which mainly consists of the less spectacular species, invertebrates and «the small ones».
  • The moral level: Environmental ethics has found many ways to explain (e.g. in Holism, Biocentrism) , that the value of a species or of an entity («a real existing something») is not dependent on its meaning for human beings.
  • The personal level: My supervisor told me many times, what also his supervisor told him once: Follow your heart, follow your intuition, don’t be too tactical. And also my dad tells me: If you love it, it will not be work and you will do a better job at the same time. So just do it.

So, if you are ever wondering  if you should follow a strange research-interest that most people cannot understand, you probably should do it.

The «unspectacular» topics often contain more surprises, miracles, never asked and never answered questions. And isn’t it even more exciting, to discover questions than answers?


I am on a road trip through south Noway right now, but on purpose I am in the backseat to browse the literature and to make quick plans for my fieldwork. Of course, while thinking, I am staring out of my window and enjoy the view on the fjords, mountains and waterfalls.


It is really worth it to look up from the scientific papers every now and then!

Ha det bra, and you can read soon how the spiders are doing (and how I am doing, as well)





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