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Ky.gov An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky

Energy and Environment Cabinet

Zoology Program

(top-bottom): northern barrens tiger beetle ~Ellis Laudermilk, KSNPC; red-headed woodpecker ~Lana Hays; blackside dace ~ Ellis Laudermilk, KSNPCKSNPC zoology program is responsible for inventorying and monitoring invertebrates and vertebrates. The program is divided into three primary sections: terrestrial zoology, aquatic zoology and invertebrate zoology. KSNPC zoologists gather data from field work, review of scientific literature and collaboration with other agencies and experts in the field.

Zoology Overview:
Invertebrates are animals without backbones and include such familiar groups as insects, mussels, snails, and spiders. More than 70 percent of all known species in the world and approximately 99 percent of all known animals are invertebrates. Simply stated, Earth’s biological diversity is dominated by invertebrates, especially insects, and life here would drastically change without their enormous contributions. Invertebrates play extremely important roles in fundamental processes such as decomposition, soil production, pest control, and pollination. They are an important food source for many animals and even for a few plants, such as the sundews.

Vertebrates (animals with backbones) are the largest, most conspicuous, and complex of animals. They are also the most highly evolved animals and include fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Although the overall number of vertebrate species accounts for only about 1 percent of the world’s animals, their diversity and life histories are much more completely known than those of invertebrates. It is remarkable when a new vertebrate species is discovered, whereas new species of invertebrates are discovered often. Even though mammals are relatively well-known, there is still much to learn about their behavior, interactions, and tolerance for changing environments.