OKEON: Okinawa Environmental Observation Network


The OKEON project, led by researchers at OIST, aims to foster an understanding of Okinawa’s complex ecosystems through collaborations between scientists and society. The project conducts various local environmental surveys with support from a wide range of organizations and people in Okinawa. OKEON works in cooperation with local universities, high schools, museums, and governments to connect people with their natural environment. The long-term objective is to inspire a generation that will continue to sustainably enjoy and appreciate the complex and beautiful environment that Okinawa provides.

The primary scientific goal of OKEON is to measure and monitor the terrestrial environments of Okinawa and understand how natural and anthropogenic factors impact these environments over time. To do this, the research team uses a combination of field, informatics, and molecular approaches. As of 2017, the OKEON team has initiated long-term data sampling at 24 sites across Okinawa. Each site currently has instruments to log weather data, arthropod traps, camera/video traps, and acoustic recorders. In the lab, the researchers have constructed a high-throughput ecological genomics pipeline, including automated molecular and bioinformatics systems.

A major project has been to develop early warning systems for the arrival of fire ants and other invasive species, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment and University of the Ryukyus. These programs run in parallel to educational activities on the island, such as outreach events, museum exhibitions, and a program to work with High School teachers. Over time, the team hopes to expand this network scientifically and geographically as more partners come on board.

Project Collaborators

In addition to OIST, OKEON consists of an expanding network of collaborating scientists, schools, government entities, and citizens. A full list of collaborators is available here: https://okeon.unit.oist.jp/?page_id=21

Project Publications

  1. Ross, S.R.P-J., Friedman, N.R., Yoshimura, M., Yoshida, T., Donohue, I., Economo, E.P.* (2021) Utility of acoustic indices for ecological monitoring in complex sonic environments. Ecological Indicators. 121: 107114.
  2. Dinets, V. Friedman, N.R., Yoshimura, M., Ogasawara, M., Economo, E.P. (2021) Acoustic detection of an unknown bat species in Okinawa. Mammal Study 45: 1–4.
  3. Yoshimura, M., Suwabe, M., Ikeda, T., Ogasawara, M., Economo, E.P.. (2020) Development and Implementation of a workshop on alien species and Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) for elementary school students. Japanese Journal of Science Communication 26: 39-56 (in Japanese, original citation: 吉村正志, 諏訪部真友子, 池田貴子, 小笠原昌子, エヴァン・エコノモ (2020) 小学生向け外来種&ヒアリ学習ワークショップの開発と実践. 科学技術コミュニケーション, 26: 39-56.)
  4. Aoyama Y., Yoshimura M., Ogasawara M., Suwabe M., Economo E. P. (2020) Potential Economic Impact on Invasion of the Red Imported Fire Ant in Okinawa, Japan. Japanese Journal of Ecology, 70: 3-14. (in Japanese, original citation: 青山 夕貴子, 吉村 正志, 小笠原 昌子, 諏訪部 真友子 & エコノモ P. エヴァン (2020) 沖縄県におけるヒアリの侵入・蔓延時に推定される経済的損失. 日本生態学会誌, 70: 3-14.)
  5. Yoshimura M. (2020) Taxonomy of Alien Ants. Pp. 34-50. In: Hashimoto Y. (Ed) Alien Ants. Asakura-shobo, Tokyo. (in Japanese, original citation: 吉村正志 (2020) 外来アリの分類学. Pp. 34-50. In: 橋本佳明 (編) 外来アリのはなし. 朝倉書店, 東京都.)
  6. Hashimoto Y., Yoshimura M. & Huang Rn. (2019) Wasabi Versus Red Imported Fire Ants: Preliminary Test of Repellency of Microencapsulated Allyl Isothiocyanate Against Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Using Bait Traps in Taiwan. Applied Entomology and Zoology, 54: 193-196.
  7. Ross, S. R. P-J., Friedman, N., Dudley, K., Yoshimura, M., Economo, E.P. (2018) Listening to ecosystems: data-rich acoustic monitoring through landscape-scale sensor networks. Ecological Research 33: 135-147.
  8. Yoshimura M., Yoshida T., Ogasawara M. & Economo E. P. (2016) Ant Research Program for High School Students Using the Time-unit Sampling Method. Research bulletin of Environmental Education Center, Miyagi University of Education, 18: 43-47. (in Japanese, original citation: 吉村正志, 芳田琢磨, 小笠原昌子 & エヴァン・エコノモ (2016) 高等学校科学研究実践活動に対する,単位時間採集法を用いたアリ類研究の提案と実践. 18環境教育研究紀要, 18: 43-47.).
  9. Yoshimura M., Ogasawara K., Suwabe M., Taga A., Naka M., Ogasawara M., Takahara Y. & Tamashiro Y. (in press) The First Record of the Argentine Ant Linepithema humile in Okinawa (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Dolichoderinae). The Biological Magazine Okinawa. (in Japanese, original citation: 吉村正志, 小笠原敬, 諏訪部真友子, 田賀麻美, 名嘉猛留, 小笠原昌子, 嵩原安樹, 玉城裕一 (印刷中) アルゼンチンアリ, 沖縄からの初記録. 沖縄生物学会誌.)