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Surveillance system for invasive ants activated in Okinawa-jima Island in Japan

Author(s):
Masashi Yoshimura, Takuma Yoshida , Mayuko Suwabe , Motoki Nakamura , Kosuke Sueyoshi , Makoto Kitamura , Kei Ogasawara , Evan P. Economo , Masashi Yoshimura
Institution(s):
Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan; Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan ; Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan ; Futenma High School, Japan ; Okinawa Prefecture Environment Science Center, Japan ; Okinawa Prefecture Environment Science Center, Japan ; Okinawa Prefecture Environment Science Center, Japan ; Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan ; Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Japan
Invasive species is a major driver of local biodiversity loss, and small island ecosystems maybe more vulnerable to invasive them. Okinawa-jima is known for having the highest biodiversity in Japan. For example, about 30% of Japanese ant species are recorded from Okinawa-jima even though its area is less than 0.5% of that of Japan. The impact of invasive ants on the local ecosystem is more serious than that of other species due to its large biomass and dominant nature. Since the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) Solenopsis invicta has been recorded at the ports on mainland Japan in 2017, it is essential that we establish a good preventative protocol to RIFA in Okinawa. Establishment of the surveillance system is the first step for the control.  The OKEON Churamori Project is a community-collaborative environmental monitoring project led by OIST, and it has been monitoring ants with the 72 SLAM traps that were activated across Okinawa-jima in April 2016. This system has been expanded to include preventative measures for RIFA by collaborating with the Okinawa Prefectural Government since the end of 2017. This includes multiple monitoring protocols at port areas, such as SLAM traps, time unit sampling (TUS), and bait trapping. The TUS protocol is shared with local high schools as a collaborative research effort. No RIFA has been detected by the monitoring system in Okinawa so far. A good example of how our surveillance system works can be demonstrated by the ant species Plagiolepis alluaudi. This alien ant was found at Naha Port in the winter of 2015 and it was the first record in Okinawa. With the monitoring data from OKEON and ant research conducted by Futenma High School, we could see clearly the distribution of this new alien ant in Okinawa-jima. The OKEON monitoring system revealed the seasonal activity of this species on the Island, and the material from the high school provided insight to the expanding distribution range of this species to their research sites.
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