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Exploring Japan ecologically

Gadagkar, R (1996) Exploring Japan ecologically. In: Down to Earth, 4 (22). pp. 22-23.

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THE Centre for Ecological Research (CER) was set up at Kyoto University in April, 1991 , to "promote. fundamental research in various ecological topics, and provide facilities for the collaborative utilisation by ecologists throughout Japan and the rest of the world." In December 1991, the Indian Academy of Sciences brought out a special issue of the Journal of Biosciences on the occasion of an International GeosphereBiosphere Project (IGBP) symposium held at the CER. The title of the symposium, "Diversity and Flexibility of Biotic Communities in Fluctuating Environments", reflects a sions about their local ecological and environmental problems. At the same time, Japanese ecologists have a conspicuous presence in other parts of t he world such as Africa, South America and Southeast Asia, where there is a much richer flora and fauna and, therefore, there are also abundant opportunities for generating new ecological knowledge . The Canopy Biology Programme in the dipterocarp forest s of Sarawak in Malaysia is an excellent example of the work of the CER outside Japan. For a variety of reasons, the dipterocarp forests in Sarawak are an excellent choice for initiating a long-term ecological study. These are amongst the richest tropica l forests anywhere in the world and have a candpy that goes up to 70 m in height. Recent research shows that contrary to what was believed earlier, these forests are under considerable flux due to global environmental c hanges such as the El Nifio Southern Oscillation. In the early '80s, Terry Erwin of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D C termed the rain forest caRopy as the "last biotic frontier" and initiated studies to sample the arthropod fauna of tropical forest canopies in Panama. Erwin fogged the canopies of a few trees with a rapidly degrading insectimajor preoccupation of the scientists at CER. Organised into seven divisions - structural ecology, evolutionary ecology, freshwater ecology, tropical ecology, temperate ecology, boreal ecology and ecological complexity - CER has about 15 senior scientists who combine teaching and research at thi::r main campus at Kyoto University, as well as several field facilities in and outside Japan. Because of it's limited geographical area and even more limited wilderness area, Japan has a rather restricted range of habitats and, therefore, only a modest flora and fauna. Japanese ecologists are worthy of praise and admiration at the way in which they have turned these apparent shortcomings to their advantage.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Down to Earth
Publisher: Down to Earth
Keywords: Kyoto university, Exploring Japan, Canopy Biology Program, Tropical forest
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2021 09:15
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2021 09:15
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/68052

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