What are invertebrates?

Invertebrates are animals that do not possess or develop a back bone or spine, so any insect and many marine species fall into this order. Invertebrates dominate virtually every global ecosystem in terms of species richness, biomass, and ecological function. Taken as a whole, the Invertebrata constitute 80% of Earth’s species, and over 95% of all animal species. Currently by ICUN redlist 95% of animals on the planet are invertebrates and over 1,000,000 of them are insects. Invertebrates can be broken down into 8 different phyla:

  • Porifera (sponges) – They look like plants an attached to substrates on the ocean and filter out their food from the currents of water.
  • Cnidaria (sea anemones, jellyfish, corals and hydroids) – They have bodies that are radially symmetric, which means one side resembles the other if the animal is cut in half.
  • Platyhelminthes/  Annelida (worms, leeches) – Some of these worms, such as tapeworms, are parasitic, but this phlya include terrestrial and marine worms
  • Nematoda (roundworms, nematodes) – Like Platyhelminthes, they can be parasitic or free living.
  • Arthropoda (crustactaceans and insects) – Arthrpoda have a protective skeleton and bodies that are divided into segments.
  • Echinodermata (starfish, sea stars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers) – have a remarkable trait that allows then to regenerate tissue, organs, limbs, and of asexual reproduction. This phyla is also depicted by its symmetry.
  • Mollusca (octopuses, squid, oysters, clams, snails and slugs) – have the greatest variation in body shape.

Ecosystem benefits

Because this order is so large they provide a wide range of ecosystem benefits on various scales. They are food for mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and other invertebrates as well as supporting plant presence through pollination, soil creation (nutrient recycling) and aeration, decomposition, and seed dispersal. Since the evaluation during the millennium ecosystem project invertebrates are estimated to be worth trillions of dollars to our economy each year.

Human benefits

The benefits we receive from invertebrates are directly derived from the benefits they provide in their ecosystem:

  • Pollinate our crops every year
  • Food source for many of the animals we consume some where along the food chain
  • Consume other invertebrates that we consider pests
  • Recycle nutrients back into the ecosystem for us to utilse and farm our own crops etc
  • Used in scientific research and indications after studies show possible remedies for terminal diseases


This is a continual project so our website will be regularly updated with new information and species, so be patient as some areas of the website may be incomplete.

If you have any pictures or information from or about the island please help us to improve our database by sending your information through to us via our contact page