The book "Alien Ants” was published, with a chapter by Yoshi from OERSS. This readable book is packed with the latest information from experts about the ant species that are currently problematic or may be problematic in the future due to their spread caused by human activities.
How much economic impact would fire ants cause if they colonized and spread in Okinawa? Japan has often derived estimates from the damage reported in the United States. However, these values are likely to be inaccurate since Japan and the United States have vastly different industries, laws and other socio-economic systems.
Okinawa Prefecture has an ongoing invasive species countermeasure project and the committee meets several times a year to discuss the selection of the designated target species and to create countermeasure guidelines for these species. Yoshi, from the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OERSS), is a member of this committee.
The Invasive Ant Countermeasure Project that was entrusted by the Okinawa Prefectural Government is nearing the end. Although there are still some loose ends to tie up, the official meeting scheduled to be held at the end of the project has been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic.
Yoshi from the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OERSS) was invited to a fire ant identification seminar hosted by the Ministry of the Environment in Miyakojima. Using photos and specimens, he taught port managers and employees of a local health center and museum how to identify alien ants. After the lecture, we entered the container yard in Hirara Port to identify ants and discussed methods to prevent the invasion and colonization of alien ants.
Dr. Akasaka, a collaborator of OKEON’s camera trap project, visited OIST from the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. We are studying the decomposition rate of the ecosystem and how this is affected by alien species and human activities.
During his visit, we discussed some preliminary results and the additional installation of cameras for the field experiments.
Professor Huang (Taiwan University), who is conducting joint research with the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OIST), hosted a Workshop on Fire Ant Control and Strategy which provided an opportunity for Taiwan-based experts to discuss fire ant control strategies. Yoshi and Masako were invited from our section, and Yoshi introduced our RIFA countermeasure efforts in Okinawa.
Every year in Okinawa, workshops on fire ants are held for stakeholders. Yoshi, the leader of OERSS, was invited as a lecturer for one that was hosted by the Naha Port Authority. In his talk titled “How do we prepare for the day when a fire ant is found in Okinawa”, he showed how to differentiate fire ants from the ants commonly found in Okinawa. While we are currently in uncertain times due to COVID-19, the importance of continuing these efforts will remain unchanged.
OKEON Churamori Project created an educational and enjoyable workshop program on alien species and fire ants aimed at Elementary school kids. This program, “Let’s become an Ant Expert Today”, has been delivered mainly by Dr. Suwabe of the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section and has been hosted by the OKEON team throughout Okinawa since 2017 as a collaborative research project with the CoSTEP of Hokkaido University.
Invitation to the research presentation by final year students at Hentona High School (January 2020)
We were invited to the research presentation by the final year Environmental Studies students at Hentona High School. Under the guidance of Mr. Takara, who has been a collaborator to the OKEON Churamori Project since its establishment, the students have been conducting research on ants.
The FY 2019 Advisory Board Meeting for the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund, sponsored by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, was held in Tokyo. The aim of the project, led by the University of Ryukyus, is to develop an invasive species management system using non-native ants as a model organism. OIST has been contributing to this project, along with The National Institute for Environmental Studies and Kyoto University.
At the beginning, we were having hard times in counting the number of insect individuals captured in SLAM traps.
The collembolan, which accounted for more than a half of the insects caught in traps, was our formidable foe.
Prof. Hidetoshi Ikeno and Graduate student Kazutoshi Goto at Graduate School of Human Science and Environment, the University of Hyogo launched a dream project to save us – the development of an automatic counting system for collembolan samples. Even after they completed the system, they kept improving.
OIST researcher Dr. Juanita Choo botanized nine sites of the OKEON Churamori project.
He asked Mr. Masayuki Hayashi, Director of the Institute of Konokinannoki, for plant identification and three OERSS members assisted the field research.
Although this field research was fraught with obstacles such as winds and rains, it was conducted successfully.
Yoshi, the coordinator of the OKEON Churamori Project, gave a presentation entitled "A social collaboration network generates sustainability of the information diffusion of invasive ants" at the 25th Annual Meeting of the “Wildlife and Society” Society. It was a part of the theme session “The role of "Science Communicator" as a bridge between wildlife research and society” organized by our collaborator CoSTEP at Hokkaido University.
We received 5,200 visitors, and many people enjoyed our two kinds of talk and the booth many insects were displayed.
New Zealand, a developed country of biosecurity, is the only country that has been successfully eradicated in spite of three RIFA discovery cases. We would like to explore that know-how. The report will be shared by the Nature Conservation Division, Environment Department, Okinawa Prefecture, so please look forward to it!
Yoshi’s lecture at the Town and Village Council Members & Officers Workshop in Okinawa Prefecture (Nov/11/2019)
Yoshi delivered a lecture on Okinawan biodiversity and fire ant countermeasures to around 410 attendees at the Okinawa Prefectural Council Members & Officers Workshop. At the social gathering following the workshop, Yoshi received many questions from the attendees. We would be happy if our activities through the “OKEON Churamori Project” are useful for future environmental policies in Okinawa.
A field sampling of the Economo Unit research project was conducted and field members from the Okinawa Environmental Research Support Section (OERSS) provided its support.
The Japanese bento that they ate in the field and the Okinawa-style Zenzai (sweet red bean paste over the shaved ice) that they enjoyed at the end of the hard work were also very popular with foreign researchers!
Science workshop "The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species" was held at Okinawa Prefectural Library
On Sunday, September 22, 2019, a science workshop "The Biodiversity Around Us and Invasive Species " was held at the Okinawa Prefectural Library in Naha City.
Even though it was shortly after the typhoon, some participants visited the library for this event.