Freshwater and Terrestrial Invertebrate Research

Invertebrate species are the largest component of Irish biodiversity in both the freshwater and terrestrial environments. Invertebrate species are even more significant in marine habitats but that is outside the scope of this section. They are the most neglected aspect of Irish wildlife, but are fundamentally important to the working of natural systems. Invertebrates are the main source of food for many of the fish, birds and mammals that live alongside us or which we farm. A few are pests but many more species perform functions such as pollination and the breakdown of waste that are of direct benefit to people.

Invertebrates are not a single taxonomic group. There is amazing diversity in the species and the lack of a backbone and an external skeleton is about the only thing the species have in common. Most invertebrates have six or eight legs, but many have none and some have over 100. Flight is a feature of many types of invertebrate but others live anchored to a substrate. The adult lives of most species are measured in hours or days, but the maximum life span of some is over 100 years. Some insects move huge distances in their lives, but some will never move and most would perhaps range over just a few square metres.

Research on invertebrates supported by NPWS has mainly been concerned with two main issues:

  • the provision of information on Irish invertebrates
  • research on individual species of conservation concern, the Annex II and IV species

Read our recent invertebrate research in the Report on Moth recording in the Burren in 2021 and 2022

Burren Invertebrate Conference

The NPWS hosted a conference on the Invertebrates of the Burren on the 9-11 August 2022 at the Michael Cusack Centre, Carran, Co. Clare. See:

Conference Programme Updated (August 2022)

Also, feel free to download the flyer for the conference.

Download the Conference Report

The main report summarises the key findings and recommendations from the conference, and the appendix has detailed accounts of the 12 talks.

Recordings of the 12 talks can be watched here:

Day 1

Introduction - Aine O'Connor and Brian Nelson

Jesmond Harding and Dave Allen

Adam Mantell and Garth Foster

Tom Gittings and After Talk Discussion

Day 2

Introduction - Aine O'Connor and Ashley Lyons

Brendan Dunford and Dara Stanley

Tim King and Nigel Bourn

Maria Long and After Talk Discussion

Members of the Scientific Unit can be contacted by e-mailing: