Okinawa’s ant expert Mr. Hidetsune Takamine, who has been collecting ants in Okinawa for 40 years, donated his ant collection to OIST at a handover ceremony on November 26, 2015.
Dr. Masashi Yoshimura, Staff Scientist in OIST’s Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit said “This means a lot to us because we now have our own reference specimens which are indispensable when identifying Okinawan ant species. It contributes enormously to improving our academic research efficiency.”
Although Okinawa covers less than 1% of the surface area of Japan, almost half of the 296 ant species in Japan live in the Okinawa prefecture.
Mr. Hidetsune Takamine is recognized as Okinawa’s ant expert. A retired biology and chemistry teacher from Naha-city, he has spent nearly 40 years travelling alone throughout the Ryukyu archipelago to collect local ants. His collection numbers over 10,000 ants that have been identified and mounted.
To identify the ants, Mr. Takamine has been working with Dr. Mamoru Terayama, an ants expert at the University of Tokyo. Mr. Takamine’s collection is unique in the study of biodiversity in Okinawa.
Dr. Albrecht Wager, Acting President of OIST, said upon receiving the specimen from Mr. Takamine, “We are greatly honored to receive these valuable results of Mr. Takamine’s tireless effort on studying the ant fauna of Okinawa.”
Prof. Evan Economo, head of OIST’s Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, expressed his gratitude saying, “No one knows the local environment of Okinawa better than the Okinawan people who have lived their lives in this place. His collection will be an invaluable resource in helping us to achieve our goal of doing world-class scientific research on Okinawan biodiversity, and understand how the diversity of Okinawa fits into the broader world.”
Mr. Takamine replied, “I will be glad if this donation will give the opportunity for Okinawa’s young generation to have interest in their local biodiversity.”
The specimen donated by Mr. Takamine will be stored in the unit’s specimen shelf as the Takamine Collection.