I though I’d do something a little bit different today. Instead of coming up with anything new to say or show you I’m going to
steal from give a shout-out to a few New Zealand organisations that highlight some of the amazing ways that spineless creatures get on with business of living.
Let’s start with Landcare Research (Manaaki Whenua), the Crown Research Institute that focuses on bioiversity and environmental issues. As you’d expect, Landcare do lots of work on invertebrates an that’s refelected in their public face. Their “What is this bug?” site is a great starting point for anyone trying to put a name to some weird critter that’s crawled out from the garden, and topic pages on some of our most interesting creatures (Onychophora, stick insects and our amazingly diverse moth fauna) make for a nice introduction to these groups.
The Landcare site I really want to pull out for special focus is their recently developed guide to freshwater invertebrates. Freshwater invertebrates are often use as “indicator species”. Because certain groups of stream invertebrates are very susceptible to pollution or changes to a stream’s natural flow, the presence or absence of these groups in particular stretch of water can give us an idea of the health of that water. In order to help community groups or landowner monitor their streams, Landcare has produced some beautiful photographs of stream invertebrates (along with information on how to sample them, and how well each species acts as an indicator). You really should check out the whole site, because some of them are quite beautiful, I’ll just give you a taster here:
Left: Kempynus lacewing sporting some impressive ‘tusks’. Right: Head shot of the larvae of an Onychohydrus diving beetle. Both images © Landcare Research
Phronima having recently evacuate its salp (© Owen Anderson). Tiny octopus! (photo from Ocean Survey 20/20)