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


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