Loving the not-so-furry animals

By Kylie Piper 7 November 2013
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
Invertebrates are small, but they have a big impact on the planet.

EVERY YEAR THE AG Society raises close to $100,000 for endangered species and we all know what the punters love: the cute, furry, small and cuddly. 

But what about the animals that aren’t so loved and wanted but are still mighty important to the biodiversity of the planet and in fact make up more than 95 per cent of all species – the invertebrates?

Last week was National Insect Week in the UK, which got me thinking: Do Aussies care about bugs? Here are some of reasons why we should.

Perhaps you enjoy sitting in the garden on a sunny afternoon. Many plants are pollinated by insects and those that aren’t rely on soil that is nutrient rich, which is often a result of invertebrates. So, without invertebrates there would be no plants in your world! And without plants, there goes all the animals that rely on them for food.

How about a spot of whale watching this weekend? It’s a popular past time on the east coast of Australia at this time of year. But many whales eat krill – an invertebrate – as do many of the fish that we like to eat. Or perhaps a nice lobster for dinner? Nope, that’s an invertebrate, too, so no more seafood for you. Without these important parts of the food chain we would have no ocean giants this season.

Are you looking forward to a nice holiday this winter, perhaps to a secluded island somewhere? Well, sorry, but many of the ‘exotic’ islands are borne from sand built up around coral reefs. And coral is, yep, you guessed it, an invertebrate.

This might sound like a stretch, but what about everyday mundane things like food and shelter? The food we eat, the medicine we use and many of the materials we use in our lives are all dependent on a balanced and diverse planet, and that includes invertebrates.

So next time you wave away that fly in the traditional ‘Aussie salute’ try imagining a world without invertebrates. They might be tiny, but they are still a big part of a healthy planet.

The AG Society is spreading its wings, stretching its antennae and making a beeline for the donation box for the International Year of Biodiversity.