The project Insect Diversity in the Trier Region is a project of the Wissenschaftsallianz Trier. Our goal is to establish a centre for the protection of invertebrate species. In this transdisciplinary centre, the biodiversity of invertebrates and their endangerment will be researched, measures against their decline will be developed and implemented, and this knowledge will be disseminated to the public, politicians and students. In the current project, we are working on the structural concept of the centre and are carrying out lobby work to convince politicians of the necessity of the centre. In addition, we are conducting exemplary projects that illustrate the scope of the future centre. We cooperate closely with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), especially with the Species Survival Commission (SSC). Axel Hochkirch, head of the project, is chairman of the Invertebrate Conservation Sub-Committee (ICSC) within the IUCN SSC.
Invertebrate species are of outstanding importance for ecosystem functioning and also provide important ecosystem services to humans. For example, we need pollinators (such as bees, flies, beetles) for agricultural production (especially of fruit and vegetables), soil organisms (such as earthworms) for the development of fertile soils and decomposers for the decomposition of carrion or faeces (e.g. carrion beetles, dung beetles). Invertebrate species are also an important source of food for other animals (such as birds and mammals).
So far, about 1.4 million invertebrate species have been scientifically described. However, it is assumed that there are between 8 and 20 million species on earth. Besides the large number of undescribed species, we know very little about most of the described species. For many species, only the original location of the first collected individuals is known and they have not been documented since. Therefore the endangered status of most invertebrate species is unknown. Many species may have already become extinct without us taking any notice. According to current knowledge, between 11,000 and 36,000 species probably become extinct every year. This knowledge is based on biogeographic laws (species-area relationship). However, it is by no means known which species are becoming extinct and what consequences this has for the environment and humans.
With the Biodiversity Convention and the UN Sustainability Targets, the international community has decided to halt the continuing loss of biodiversity. However, this goal can only be achieved if we massively increase our activities to protect the most species-rich groups on earth, in particular invertebrates. We also need to establish interfaces between research and application in order to link theoretical knowledge on the protection of biodiversity with practical application. This includes the transfer of knowledge to species-rich countries with a lack of scientific expertise and the provision of information to the public and politicians.