BBC Nature news recently reported that up to one fifth of the world’s invertebrates are at risk of extinction. The 12,000 species of spineless creatures make up nearly 80% of the world’s organisms and on land, invertebrates such as insects, molluscs and worms make up 96% of all known species.
Many of the ecosystems crucial to sustaining our existence are highly dependent on these often microscopic creatures who provide vital services for preservation: including water filtration and nutrient recycling.
“Invertebrates tend to go under the radar, people don’t realize just how integral they are,” said Dr. Ben Collen, head of the Indicators and Assessments unit at ZSL, the company that conducted the review. “All of the flowers that we see around us, many of the crops that we grow and eat are pollinated for free by insects.”
According to ZSL, major issues facing threatened freshwater species are water pollution from agricultural run-off, domestic sewage and industrial waste. Rising pH levels in ocean water, in turn responding to increases in atmospheric CO2, the researchers found, could be particularly harmful for species with external skeletons able to be eroded. The report urged for comprehensive studies to take place to help guide further conservation and preservation activities.
The majority of the world’s estimated 126,000 freshwater species are invertebrates; and of those included on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, 35% are considered threatened.” (BBC)
Functional, diverse freshwater systems are crucial to the maintenance and sustenance of the planet’s various complex ecosystems—many of which directly affect human life. A recent study in Florida analyzing cypress swamps concluded that 98 percent of all nitrogen and 97 percent of all phosphorous was removed from the waste stream before it entered groundwater supplies.
“Astronomers investigating the possibility of life on other planets are well aware of the importance of water for supporting life as we know it. But on this planet, wetlands are unrivaled in their ability to regulate the flow of this precious liquid, insure its quality and make it available to a vast number of users.” (CST Nature Conservancy)