2010 will be marked across the globe as the International Year of Biodiversity. So what exactly is biodiversity? Why have an International Year of Biodiversity? And where do invertebrates, or bugs, fit within biodiversity?
|Britain's rarest beetle - the Streaked bombardier |
beetle (Brachinus sclopeta)
© Benoit Martha
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is a word used to describe all life on earth - the variety and abundance of all living things, including all groups of animals, plants and fungi, such as invertebrates, birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, trees and wildflowers. It includes everything from the tiniest micro-organisms that cannot be seen with the naked eye, to the largest animals on the planet. Biodiversity is also about places - the habitats which plants and animals depend upon. Just think of the differences between a rainforest in central America, a beach in the UK and a mountain top in the Himalayas! Each type of habitat supports entirely different wildlife and plants.
|Common darter dragonfly (Sympetrum striolatum) © Paul Jerem|
Why have an International Year of Biodiversity?
The International Year of Biodiversity is an opportunity for all of us to:
-find out more about the importance of biodiversity
-find out about biodiversity loss - the threats biodiversity faces leading to extinction
-celebrate conservation successes, and
-get involved in conserving biodiversity
In the UK there is a partnership of organisations coming together to mark the International Year of Biodiversity - IYB-UK
Where do invertebrates, or bugs, fit within biodiversity?
|Garden cross spider (Araneus diadematus) © Greg Hitchcock|
Invertebrates, or bugs, are vitally important to a healthy planet - we humans could not survive without them and neither could most other life forms. Bugs are often at the bottom of the food chain, for example, fish in our seas feed upon microscopic invertebrates called Zooplankton, marine mammals such as Dolphins then feed upon these fish. Without the animals at the bottom of the food chain, large popular animals that we know and love simply could not survive.
Bugs pollinate our crops - we are dependent upon insect pollination for apples, strawberries, cherries, almonds and cacao beans (which are used to make chocolate) to name but a few! They recycle nutrients back into the soil by eating dead plant and animal matter, and condition and aerate the soil (e.g. earthworms).
|Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestrius) © Denis Greenough|
Each invertebrates species plays a critically important role in the web of life. Once lost they cannot be replaced. Many invertebrates have incredible life stories yet to be told and we literally don't know what we are on the verge of losing.
In the UK alone we have lost:
Bumblebees - 3 species are extinct, 15 others have gone from many parts of the country
Butterflies - over 70% of species are declining significantly
Riverflies - have declined by 66% in recent years
How can I get involved?
|Please click here to visit the International Year of Biodiversity UK (IYB-UK) website. There is lots more information about activities and key dates in 2010, as well as information on the organisations taking part (including Buglife)|
|Please consider supporting our conservation work. Membership of Buglife costs from just £18 per year, or you can make a donation online. Click here to find out more|
Please help conserve bugs yourself at home by taking part in our Snug as a Bug campaign, and check back here regularly for other campaigns, events and activities during the International Year of Biodiversity 2010.