Study the anatomy, behaviour, taxonomy and physiology of microscopic through to larger animals from worms and snails to arthropods and insects. Learn about invertebrate significance to human health and agriculture.

Study the Anatomy, Behaviour, Taxonomy and Physiology of Invertebrates

Invertebrates are the largest group of animals on earth. Separated into 8 distinct phyla, they include octopodes, starfish, crabs, bees, butterflies, and more. Much of the earth's ecosphere and agricultural production is dependent on the actions of invertebrates.

In this course, you'll learn about:

  • Naming systems and classification
  • Key differences between small invertebrates and plants
  • Invertebrate significance to human health
  • Invertebrate significance to agriculture
  • And more...

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Invertebrate Animals
    • Introduction
    • Significance to humans
    • Comparative studies - invertebrate animals
    • Important terminology
    • Overview of Invertebrate Phyla
    • Microscopic phyla -Tardigrada, Kinorhyncha, Loricifera, Placozoa
    • Worms - Acanthocephala, Annelida, Hemichordata, etc
    • Corals and relatives - Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Ectoprocta, Porifera
    • Echinoderms and Molluscs - Echinodermata, Mollusca, Brachiopoda
    • Complex Invertebrates - Arthropoda
  2. Microscopic Animals
    • Protozoa or Animalia
    • Phylum Nematoda
    • Mites
    • Phylum Tardigrada
    • Adaptability and Survival
    • Anhydrobiosis
    • Cysts
    • Phylum Kinorhycha
    • Phylum Loricifera
    • Phylum Placozoa
  3. Worms & Worm Like Animals
    • True worms vs Worm like organisms
    • Worm evolution
    • Bilateral symmetry
    • Cephalisation
    • Body organisation
    • Characteristics and systems showing complexity
    • Phylum Platyhelminthes (Flatworms)
    • Free living flatworms
    • Parasitic flatworms
    • Significance to Humans - Liver fluke, blood flukes, tapeworms
    • Beef tapeworm
    • Phylum Nematoda (Roundworms)
    • Phylum Annelida (Segmented Worms)
    • Other Worm Like Animals - Acorn worms, ribbon worms, Spiny headed worms, etc.
    • Coelomate Worms
  4. Sponges, Corals, Anemones, Jellyfish
    • Introduction
    • Phylum Cnidaria
    • Hydrozoa
    • Scyphozoa
    • Cubozoa
    • Anthozoa
    • Cnidaria and Humans
    • Phylum Ctenophora
    • Phylum Porifera - Location, Internal & External Structures, Reproduction, Toxicity
    • Classes within Porifera
    • Finding food
  5. Molluscs and Echinoderms
    • Phylum Echinodermata
    • Crinoidea - Sea Lilies and Feather Stars
    • Ophiuroidea -Brittle stars, Basket Stars
    • Asteroidea - Sea stars or Starfish
    • Case Study - Crown of Thorns Starfish
    • Echinoidea -Sea urchins, Heart urchins, Sea dollars
    • Chass Holothuroidea - Sea Cucumbers
    • Phylum Mollusca - general characteristics and types
  6. Arthropods 1
    • Classification into Arachnida, Crustacea, Myriapoda and Insecta (insects)
    • Origin
    • Terminology
    • Characteristic body parts
    • Ecdysis
    • Digestion, Respiration, reproduction and other systems
    • Phylum Arthropoda
    • Chelicerata (Chelicerates)
    • Arachnida (Scorpions, Spiders, Mites and Ticks)
    • Scorpiones (Scorpions)
    • Araneae (Spiders)
    • Acari (Mites and Ticks)
    • Opiliones (Daddy Long-Legs)
    • Merostomata (Horseshoe crabs)
    • Pycnogonida (Sea spiders)
  7. Arthropods 2
    • Terminology
    • Crustacea (Crustaceans)
    • Class Malacostraca -Crayfish, Crabs, Shrimp etc
    • Branchiopoda - Fairy shrimp, Water fleas
    • Cephalocardia
    • Remipedia
    • Maxilopoda
    • Sessile Crustaceans
    • Sub Phylum Uniramia - millipedes, centipedes and insects
  8. Insects 1
    • Origin of insects - winged vs non winged
    • Class Entogantha -Collembola, Diplura, Protura
    • Class Insecta
    • Insect features
    • Mouthparts
    • Insect classification into 29 orders
    • Specialised organs
    • Reproduction
    • Lifecycle
    • Senses - vision, comminication
    • Odonata -Dragonflies and Damselflies
    • Mantodea - Mantises
    • Orthoptera - Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids
  9. Insects 2
    • Significance to man
    • Clean air and water
    • Pollination by insects
    • Edible insects
    • Case Study - Grasshoppers save lives
    • Order Diptera - Mosquitos and Flies
    • Order Hymentoptera - Bees, wasps, ants, sawflies
    • Order Coleoptera - Beetles, weevils

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Who is this Course for?

This is a great course for any wishing to learn more about invertebrates, whether for personal studies or professional development.  It is an ideal course for:

  • Students of Biology
  • Farmers
  • Gardeners
  • Pest Controllers
  • Environmental Managements
  • Veterinarians
  • People working in human health

Why You Need to Know About Invertebrates?

Invertebrates, like all living species, are required to locate and digest food, mate and reproduce, protect themselves, maintain internal bodily regulations and nutrients as well as remove waste products.  However, invertebrates do these vital ‘life’ tasks differently to vertebrate species. 

There many species of invertebrates yet to be identified and that is why it is such an exciting subject to learn as scientists are always discovering.  Many species are of use to humans with the assistance of food production and biodiversity, but also come with a negative as many can be vectors for disease.   

So why are there so many invertebrates and how do they maintain their high numbers?  Many species can survive in the most extreme environments on Earth.  Some are deep within the depths of the ocean and some can survive within the freezing temperatures of Antarctica.  Some species are able to switch into dormant mode to enable their survival within these extreme conditions.  Invertebrate species are small which allows them to easily avoid predatory species and being small also takes less feeding.  Some species have wings which enhances their survival.  The reproduction rates of invertebrates are very high with many species producing hundreds of eggs at a time.  Some females are able to store sperm and some species are parthenogenetic.  Also some species can go through metamorphosis which also assists in their population survival.  Invertebrates are very adaptable, not only to their environment but also having a shorter life cycle with a high reproductive capacity.  

Approximately 95% of all species from the animal kingdom form part of this group, which accounts for over 1 million known species. We could also say that approximately 80% of the invertebrates belong to the Phylum Arthropoda.