December 2016 Joint Lab Meeting with Tsuji Lab


On December 5, arilab had another joint lab meeting with the Tsuji lab from the University of the Ryukyus.

Yoshi, the coordinator of the OKEON Churamori Project, gave a presentation on the current status of the project. Compared to a year ago, the project has made great progress, with 72 SLAM traps, 24 weather stations, and some camera traps and acoustic traps set up. Specimens are being sorted and ant species are being identified, the database is up and running and already holds a lot of data, much GIS data has been compiled and many models created, and the website is also complete.


From the Tsuji lab side, Dr. Kaori Tsurui, part of the Center for Strategic Research Project, gave a presentation titled “Interactions between guppies and mosquitofish: a good system for studying evolutionary ecology”.

After the talks, both labs went out together and continued discussion.

The Wonder of Ants and the OKEON Churamori Project – Open Campus 2016


On Sunday, November 27th, guests from all parts of Okinawa gathered at OIST to attend the Open Campus Science Festival. This event was OIST’s biggest Open Campus to date, with over 5200 attendees, 250 volunteers, 20 food vendors and 35 booths featuring hands-on science activities.



The arilab booth attracted many visitors. Per usual, the Wonder of Ants is an essential part of the exhibition: there were ant specimens displayed, microscopes set up that allowed visitors to look at macroscopic ants, 3D-printed ants, 3D ants and ant structure that can be visualized by wearing 3D glasses, and an educational video about ants.


On top of that, the OKEON project had its own area, with various posters set up about the project, a SLAM trap and a camera trap set up as demonstrations, a video created by Nick that documents various sounds recorded from acoustic traps at OKEON sites, and finally the famous Okinawan ant specialist Takamine san was also present to educate people about ants.


Prince Akishino Visits Arilab


Image from QAB

On November 14, 2016, His Imperial Highness attended the Joint Meeting of the International Congress of Zoology and the Zoological Society of Japan and visited the OIST campus, including the Economo Lab. Evan gave an overview of our lab research, including ant phylogenies, GABI/, the OKEON Churamori project, studying ant morphology with micro-CT, invasive ants and ant projects in Madagascar. The Prince has a PhD in molecular phylogenetics (!), so he understands our research very well and asked terrific questions.

Several media outlets broadcasted the visit, including NHK, OTV and QAB.

Let’s head to OIST Science Festa 2016 – Open Campus! OISTサイエンスフェスタ2016 −オープンキャンパス− へ向けて、只今準備中。















The Economo unit is once again setting up a booth at the OIST Science Festa 2016 as part of the Open Campus event. “The Wonder of Ants”, a section of the booth that has always been popular, is also being exhibited but with more content than before. Moreover, this year the OKEON Churamori project will also set up its own section, with various collaborators gathering at the event, including teachers and students from Hentona and Yomitan high schools; Takamine san, the famous ant scholar who studied Okinawa ants for over 40 years; finally, Tone san, the curator of the Okinawa city museum and a speaker at the joint talk event that was recently held at the same museum.

At the Science Cafe, Yoshimura san and Tone san will be collaborating once again. Let’s talk about what we can do individually to preserve the environment of Okinawa.

After the Science Cafe, the teachers and students from Hentona high school will present their research results on ants collected from their school, which is surrounded by the nature of Yanbaru.

Time : 2016 November 27 (Sunday)
10:00~16:00 (Entry is until 5:30)
Location: OIST campus

The Wonder of Ants & The OKEON Churamori Project
Did you know that there are over 12000 described species of ants? Though ants are ubiquitous, they are infact very interesting creatures and fascinate not only the general public but also researchers. Similar to humans, they create their own society with each individual playing a role to accomplish tasks. Let’s experience together the profound world of ants.
We will display the efforts and the results of our environmental monitoring network, the OKEON Churamori Project.

10:45-12:15 Lab 3
OKEON Churamori Project〜Let’s work together for the future of Okinawa〜
Speaker: Masashi Yoshimura (OIST Biodiversity / Biocomplexity Unit)
Speaker: Tone Koichi (Okinawa municipal museum)

12:15-12:30 Lab 3
The ants of Hentona High School


エコノモユニットでは、今年もOISTサイエンスフェスタ2016−オープンキャンパス− に、ブースを出すことになりました。いつもの人気コーナー「アリの不思議」もパワーアップの予定。さらに、今年は「OKEON美ら森プロジェクト」のコーナーを拡大します。プロジェクトが始動してからの成果を紹介します。




OKEON美ら森プロジェクトが目標としている、沖縄社会との協働ネットワークの構築。OISTサイエンスフェスタ2016 −オープンキャンパス− に集ってくださる皆さんは、地域社会とプロジェクトとの良い関係を象徴する大きな成果です。


日時: 2016年11月27日(日)
10:00~16:00 (入場は15:30まで)
会場: OISTキャンパス


10:45-12:15 Lab 3
スピーカー:吉村 正志 (OIST生物多様性・複雑性研究ユニット・スタッフサイエンティスト)
スピーカー:刀禰 浩一 (沖縄市立郷土博物館 学芸員)

12:15-12:30 Lab 3


Highlights from the International Congress of Entomology in Orlando


The nearly one-week long XXV International Congress of Entomology, under the theme Entomology without Borders, took place in Orlando this year from September 25-30. It brought together the largest delegation of scientists and experts in the history of the discipline with over 7000 participants and over 2000 talks, with topics ranging from biodiversity and conservation to ecology and evolution to medical entomology to taxonomy to IPM to science communication.

Various members of our lab participated in this conference by either giving a talk or presenting a poster, as listed below:
Evan Economo (Talk) Reconciling global macroecological pattern and macroevolutionary processes in ant biodiversity.
Paco Hita Garcia (Talk) Evolution, biogeography, and diversification of the genus Terataner.
Julia Janicki (Talk) An interactive client-server mapping application for visualizing the ants of the world.
Cong Liu (Talk) Reorganization of taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic ant biodiversity after conversion to rubber plantation.
Eli Sarnat (Talk) Applied systematics of Pheidole: An interactive review of the world’s most invasive ant lineage.
Masashi Yoshimura (Poster) OKEON Chura-mori Project: A new environmental monitoring project in Okinawa, Japan


Symposia on ants, phylogenetic methods, biodiversity and taxonomy were popular among the myrmecologists in our lab. Other symposia that were very interesting included one on weevils, another on science communication, and one on the use of biological specimen data.