What is an Invertebrate?

Invertebrates are animals that don’t have a backbone or vertebral column. This includes most of the world’s animals from sponges to insects. Only a relatively small group of animals like fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals possess backbones. Theses animals belong to the subphylum Vertebrata of the phylum Chordata. The remaining chordates, such as tunicates and sea squirts, lack a backbone, even though they possess the precursor of one.

Millions of species of invertebrates inhabit the world in which we live, and only a small fraction are likely to be familiar to most of us. The remaining invertebrates attain a variety of shapes and sizes, and occur in nearly every available habitat. Because of this variety, the identification of invertebrates can be an awesome task to the non specialist, and many species are able to stump even the specialists. This project is a joint effort between scientists working alongside trained community members taking on the huge task of identifying the collected invertebrates using a range of keys. When this classification has been done, the information is then passed onto experts in entomology who specialise in different classes to further identify the specimen. Due to the uniqueness of the area being surveyed scientists are already discovering new species never seen or studied before!