Biodiversity We have traditionally assessed diversity at all scales by looking at species or taxonomic richness. Using land snails as an example, I am seeking to see how well this matches with other measures of diversity. In particular, we can ask questions about the range of traits that snails present at each location, and whether this advances our understanding of the limits of diversity. I condense this into a simple question: is it who you are (ancestry), or what you are (function) that predicts your occurrence at any one place? These are crucial questions; do we know enough about such traits to draw conclusions?
Evolution Why do some animals weigh a fraction of a milligram and others many tons? Why do some animals mature after a few days and others need several years? Why do some animals grow and then reproduce without growing, while others continue growing after maturation? Why are growth curves so often well approximated by von Bertalanffy's equation? Why do some animals produce myriads of tiny eggs and others produce only a few large offspring?
Ecosystem What is the impact of freshwater mussels on ecosystem function? Will freshwater mussels' catastrophic decline lead to the decline of other faunas and the alteration of river ecosystem processes? Is it possible to quantify the ecosystem services they provide? What is the social perception of ecosystem services? Can we develop useful recommendations for river management?