Invertebrates- often overlooked but SO important!
This often ignored group includes an amazing array of organisms- dragonflies, snails, bees, worms, mayflies, spiders, centipedes and many many others. They eclipse all other forms of life on earth, not only in sheer numbers, diversity (number of species), and biomass (dry weight), but also in their vital role in functioning ecosystems.
They are a part of nearly every food chain, either directly as food for other animals, or indirectly in the endless recycling of soil nutrients. Insects, worms, and mites are extremely important in helping microbes break down dung and dead plant and animal matter and invertebrates are thought to decompose 99 percent of human and animal waste. Other invertebrates, particularly native bees, pollinate most human food crops and most other plant species. So although they don’t get much publicity - dung beetles don’t really have the same charisma as pandas or snow leopards - we simply can’t do without them!
But invertebrates, like far too many living things, are now under threat from habitat loss and climate change. Ultimately, the key to protection of any species is protecting its habitat, and that is what we at SGEG are hoping to help our local invertebrates with.
So, in the summer of 2021 we commissioned a professional survey of the insects and other invertebrates inhabiting Shamley Green and Wonersh to see exactly what we have and to get recommendations of how we can best look after them. A total of 516 species were identified, 29 of which are scarce in Great Britain. In addition, 2 (the White Admiral butterfly and the Cinnabar Moth) are also on a list of ‘priority species’ which local authorities must take into account regarding any proposals which would affect their habitat.
The mowing and tree management regimes we adopt in the next few years will attempt to provide these invaluable creatures with habitats in which they can thrive and play their unseen but vital role.