Northern Ireland Coastal Invertebrates

Giant's Causeway © grafxart8888

Northern Ireland is famed for its stunning coastlines, like the incredible Causeway Coast, to the lesser appreciated Sheepland Coast. However, recent statistics put Northern Ireland 12th worst for biodiversity loss globally due to habitat loss, agricultural intensification, and invasive non-native species that cause negative ecological impacts. Considering this, what is the condition of our fragile coastal habitats and the threatened invertebrates they support?

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Quick Facts:

  • Name of Project:  Northern Ireland Coastal Invertebrates
  • Duration of Project: April 2023 – March 2028
  • Location of Project: Across Northern Ireland
  • Species benefiting from Project: Some of the species that may benefit from this project are Northern Colletes (Colletes floralis), Narrow-mouthed Whorl Snail (Vertigo angustior), Heather Mining Bee (Andrena fuscipes), Hydrobia acuta neglecta and the Spattered Diver (Agabus consperus). Species may change throughout the duration of the project.
  • Project funded by: DAERA / NIEA Environment Fund

What will the project do?

This five year Buglife project, funded by the Environment Fund (DAERA/NIEA), aims to increase entomology capacity across coastal sites of Northern Ireland through engaging citizen science events, school sessions, and supporting volunteers to undertake single and multi-species transects.

In addition to this, two hectares of habitat (including calcareous grassland, sand dunes, salt marsh, and soft rock cliffs) will be created or restored per year, connecting with Buglife’s B-lines network in Northern Ireland, and the popular walking route, the Ulster Way.

The Northern Ireland Coastal Invertebrates project will work towards providing at minimum of five Species Recovery Plans for our most threatened invertebrates; spanning across taxonomic groups, from bees to molluscs and spiders.


Cloughey Sand Dunes © Joshua Clarke Cloughey Sand Dunes © Joshua Clarke

Previously, we have worked alongside National Trust NI on the north coast to help monitor and provide management plans for Northern Colletes (Colletes floralis) and Narrow-mouthed Whorl Snail (Vertigo angustior).

In 2016 we had worked with National Trust NI once again, this time in Strangford Lough, to monitor a population of Hydrobia acuta neglecta (a small brackish water snail) following a breach in a wall protecting the freshwater lagoon, where the snails are found, from increased salinity.

The Northern Ireland Coastal Invertebrates project will continue monitoring these species where possible, and include new species, such as the Heather Mining Bee (Andrena fuscipes) in heathland, Short-horned Yellow-faced Bee (Hylaeus brevicornis) along the Co. Down coast, and the status of a brackish water specialist the Spattered Diver (Agabus consperus) in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s invertebrates face many problems, including many data gaps or unknowns, and this project aims to improve recording and data; for example, confirming the presence of the Whelk Shell Jumping Spider (Pseudeuophyrs obsoleta) a UKBAP species with one unconfirmed record in Northern Ireland, and the Red Flash Bug (Alydus calcaratus) in Co. Down which has not been found again since initial record.


Narrow-mouthed Whorl Snail (Vertigo angustior) © Roy Anderson Narrow-mouthed Whorl Snail (Vertigo angustior) © Roy Anderson

How can you get involved?

Northern Ireland Coastal Invertebrates hopes to increase lasting entomology capacity in Northern Ireland with species recording, achieving favourable conservation status of key sites and habitats, and helping threatened invertebrates thrive.

A number of upcoming opportunities will be available and we would be delighted to hear from you if you would like to get involved with:

  • workshops;
  • surveys (e.g. pollinators, Noble Tortoise Beetle, jumping spiders and more including under-appreciated taxa like Opiliones);
  • habitat restoration and creation work.

You can also get involved in recording schemes, such as, 10-minute FIT counts from the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, submit records via CEDaR Online Recording or upload individual records to i-Record.

For more information on how to get involved in our “Northern Ireland Coastal Invertebrates” project please contact Joshua Clarke (Conservation Officer – Northern Ireland) at [email protected]

Sheepland Coast ASSI © Joshua Clarke Sheepland Coast ASSI © Joshua Clarke

Northern Ireland Coastal Invertebrates” is funded by the Environment Fund (DAERA/NIEA)

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