Every now and then you read a paper or, better still, make an observation that makes you step back and go "wow! Isn't that awesome?"
I had one of those moments recently. It involved the a) reading of a paper that b) made me recall an observation I made a few years ago which intrigued me at the time. I'd filed away the observation hoping to re-visit it one day. Maybe that day has arrived! Such moments reminds you of why you do what you do (in my case, studying the dynamics of ecosystems) and the excitement that can be generated by new discovery.
All good questions in ecology stem from observations of nature that generate testable hypotheses. For me, natural history informs what I do on so many levels. Observing the form of plants invariably gets you thinking about the function of plants. Looking at a stand of trees gets you thinking about why there are no seedlings. Compiling a species list for a 1m2 quadrat and getting to 42 plant species invariably gets you to thinking about the mechanisms that allow so many species to coexist in such a small area. It's how careers are built - curiosity demands explanation.
Recently I stumbled across a paper in Ecology - in a new (and welcome) section of the journal titled The Scientific Naturalist - that excited me no-end. A bunch of ecologists (Dell et al. 2017) had been burning pine savanna in the USA when they stumbled across one answer to a question that has rarely been asked: where do invertebrates hide to survive fire? Typical answers include: they shelter under rocks, down burrows, under bark. But, it seems that survival might actually include climbing / walking / jumping up tree trunks to escape the direct flame zone.