“Mrs Oppenheimer is particularly concerned that the decrease in invertebrate numbers will break natural connections within the ecosystem, resulting in a break in its connectivity and ultimate collapse”, said Mr Duncan MacFadyen, Manager of Research and Conservation at E Oppenheimer and Son. Factors, such as urbanisation, pollution, an increasingly managed rural area also affect invertebrates. Mrs Oppenheimer commissioned a study to look at the factors that affect insect biodiversity including whether electromagnetic radiation emissions from cell phone masts have a noticeable effect on insects in the field. “Invertebrates are the gardeners in many of our ecosystems. We rely on them for the pollination of many plant species, for controlling vegetation growth, for keeping “pest” numbers in check, for turning over the soil and for many other activities we associate with gardening. It is important that we understand how human activities are impacting insects in our ecosystems”, noted Duncan MacFadyen. He also said “Insect biodiversity is also being impacted in the rural grasslands by intensive agricultural practices and the fragmentation of the grasslands into smaller and smaller patches. Not all insects can fly. Crawling insects are often unable to move from one patch of habitat to another. This creates isolated populations of insects and the smaller populations may not survive”.
The passion displayed in many fields for nature conservation by the Oppenheimer family and in De Beers resulted in numerous invertebrate projects being sanctioned, including research into dung beetles, lace wings, bugs, butterflies and moths, spiders as well as investigating the affects on invertebrate diversity and abundance.