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This program is one of the five Issue-Oriented Research Programs of the Institute and is being promoted mainly by the Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies.

  • Research and technology development to conserve biodiversity
  • Research and technology development for conservation and rehabilitation of land-to-sea connections and sustainable ecosystem services
     

We aim to contribute to the realization of a society in harmony with nature that receives benefits from the ecosystem sustainably. Five research projects are the pillars of this program.




Project 1:Biodiversity assessment of impacts of large-scale human activities

〜We propose measures for proper use and management of biodiversity and ecosystem〜




As a consuming country of natural resources, Japan has extensive influence on biodiversity in resource-producing areas through international trade. On the other hand, in Japan, because of the concentration and reduction of the population, the loss of proper management and use in forests and agricultural land has resulted in the decline of biodiversity and ecosystems.

In this project, we consider the problem of utilization and management of biodiversity and ecosystems occurring at different scales (for example, domestic and overseas), and we develop evaluation indicators as the basis to propose strategic solutions.

Specifically, subtheme 1 aims to quantify the biodiversity footprint(*) through international trade, and subtheme 2 aims to quantify biodiversity and ecosystem responses under declining population in Japan to establish management plans.

(*)Biodiversity Footprint: Biodiversity impact amount on unit resource consumption

  • Subtheme 1 Global effects of natural resource exploitation on biodiversity

We will quantify how resource utilization will change land use in resource production area through supply chain in cooperation with the Center for Material Cycles and Waste Management Research. In addition, we will develop indicators to quantify the impact of changes in land use on biodiversity.

  • Subtheme 2 Effects of land-use abandonment on biodiversity

We will evaluate the response of biodiversity and ecosystems to land use change (such as abandoning cultivation) that resulted from declining population and clarify the influence of the change on human society.



Project 2:Development of intensive control methods for invasive alien species management

〜We will promptly take countermeasures to threats to biodiversity〜




At the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the goal of the strategic objective B is to "reduce direct pressure on biodiversity and promote sustainable use." Therefore, an urgent need of a national strategy is to prevent anthropogenic environmental disturbance from causing damages on biodiversity and to construct a sustainable management system. Especially in Japan, the increase of invasive alien species and chemical pollutants such as pesticides are imminent and important issues those a lot of people are greatly interested in.

In this project, we will develop actual and effective countermeasures for these issues and contribute to Ministry of the Environment's policies for alien species and pesticide risk management. Furthermore, focusing on pandemic of infectious disease in wildlife caused by artificial disturbance of biogeography of wildlife, we are developing measures for controlling such pathogens.

  • Subtheme 1 Ecological impact assessment and control method development of invasive alien species

・Elucidate the ecological and sociological factors for invasion, colonization and distribution of alien species
・Develop manuals for quarantine, early detection, and control methods of alien species
・Raise awareness of alien species management, as well as build a community-based, civic cooperation control system and advance their social implementation

  • Subtheme 2 Ecological impact assessment by pesticide and development of risk management method

・Develop ecological impact assessment methods for chemical pesticides including neonicotinoid pesticides
・Reveal the present situation of pesticide influence in wildlife
・Develop management methods to reduce ecological risk by agricultural chemicals
・Enhance a pesticide ecology impact assessment system under the Agricultural Chemicals Control Act

  • Subtheme 3 Emerging infectious disease control measures from wildlife

・Elucidate the invasion and spread of Zoonosis (e.g., avian influenza and tick-borne infectious diseases) and analyze the ecological, sociological, and economic factors concerning those
・Elucidate the spreading process of infectious disease related to transfer (e.g., frog chytrid and acarine parasites) and establish control measures
・Construct networks and databases of wildlife loss cases due to infectious diseases
・Pursue the understanding of ecological significance of conservation of diversity and endemism in microorganisms based on host?parasite co-evolution and co-speciation analyses



Project 3:Ecological responses to large-scale environmental changes

〜We predict living organisms and ecosystem responses to wide-area environmental changes and prepare guidelines for adaptive strategy〜



This project sheds light on mechanisms of biotic and ecosystem responses against large-scale environmental changes and provides the scientific basis for environmental policymaking. Because of the urgency, we particularly focus on climate change and air pollution as the environmental changes.

This project is based on the following three pillars.

  • Subtheme 1:Exploring patterns of biotic communities and ecosystem functions in relation to their environment
    “What kind of response to environmental change occurs?”

Large amounts of data showing responses of certain living things against a certain environmental factor such as temperature and data showing time series change of biotic communities in a certain place have accumulated over many years in books, literature, and scientific reports all over the word. We correct and compile these data to make large data sets to explore patterns of biotic communities and ecosystem functions in relation to broad-scale variables such as geography, temperature, and other climatic factors.

  • Subtheme 2:Elucidating mechanisms of biotic and ecosystem responses to the environmental changes
    “How do they respond to the environmental changes?”

The ways in which living things interact with their environment in communities and in ecosystems is the subject of this subtheme. Here we especially focus on mechanism of plant respiration kinetics against temperature and mechanism of plant tolerance to photochemical oxidant. We work on these two subjects through field observations and experiments.

  • Subtheme 3:Assessing the biotic responses to the large-scale environmental changes
    “What will happen in this changing world?”

New insights obtained in Subthemes 1 & 2 are incorporated into the projection models on the future ecosystems affected by the large-scale environmental changes. The resultant projections will be provided as the scientific basis to support environmental policymaking.This subtheme is proceeded in cooperation with PJ4.



Project4:Evaluation of biodiversity and the development of supporting system for conservation design

〜We will provide accumulated information and developed tools to society〜



We distribute compiled biodiversity data and supporting system for the efficient allocation of conservation efforts in regional and national scales.

The achievement the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of ecosystem services is not a simple task. We need to estimate the negative effects of multiple threats on biodiversity, as well as the cost of conservation efforts. Further, we need to prioritize threats and areas to cope with on the basis of integrated evaluation of the costs and risks.

We compile basic data of biodiversity and ecosystem services, including species distribution, ecological traits of individual species, and land use maps.

We compile indices developed to date of the status of biodiversity and ecosystem services for integrated assessments. We will develop new indices if needed

We develop a supporting system for the efficient allocation of the conservation efforts, incorporating the evaluation of various aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The system will be equipped with an easy-to-use interface for the promotion of the system to the public.

We compile the outputs of other research projects of the Harmonization with Nature Research Program. The outputs include the responses of the components of biodiversity to the major threats, evaluation of the effectiveness of conservation technologies, and the trade-offs among different ecosystem services.

We develop a supporting system to ensure the efficient allocation of conservation efforts, incorporating the evaluation of various aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The system will take advantage of the knowledges, technologies, and datasets compiled in the research program.

The compiled data and outputs will be distributed swiftly. For the promotion of this knowledge base to the public, we cooperate with national and regional governments and non-governmental organizations.

In this research project, we compile scientific knowledge and technologies needed for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of ecosystem services. The knowledge and technologies include the outputs of other research projects of the Harmonization with Nature Research Program. We also compile data of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The compiled knowledge, technologies, and data are used for the development of the supporting system for the efficient allocation of conservation efforts incorporating the evaluation of various aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The developed system is to be distributed to the public through national and regional governments and non-governmental organizations.



Project5:Evaluation of ecosystem functions and services and their sustainable use

〜We propose a nature symbiotic catchment basin and regional control measures〜



The importance of evaluating natural and socioeconomic values of ecosystem services and management of interrelated ecosystem services is increasing, as represented by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), establishment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and the start of Future Earth.

In this project, we evaluate various ecosystem functions and services of each constituent element (forest, agricultural land, lake, coast, etc.) within a regional unit (e.g., watershed and island) and examine the relationships among the functions and services. Then we will clarify their maintenance mechanisms, as well as the trade-offs. We also propose management measures to establish watersheds in harmony with nature to achieve sustainability of ecosystems and their use.

  • Subtheme 1  Interactions among multiple ecosystem services in the Lake Kasumigaura watershed

We will quantify multiple ecosystem services in the watershed of Lake Kasumigaura, the second largest lake in Japan. We aim to identify spatial and temporal trade-offs among ecosystem services, including water quality, crop production, fishery production, carbon storage, and cultural services, and understand the mechanisms behind these trade-offs. We will also assess aquatic biodiversity using environmental DNA (eDNA) and explore the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services. Based on these results, we will propose watershed management for the sustainable use of ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation.

  • Subtheme 2 Sustainability of ecosystems on the Ogasawara Islands

We investigate whether ecosystems on the Ogasawara Islands are sustainable. We conduct continuous field survey focusing on ecosystems in small and unstable fresh water habitats in which we can detect some changes in ecosystems immediately. We also develop a new ecosystem monitoring method using environmental DNA analysis. Based on sociological analyses (questionnaire surveys, web analysis, etc.), we seek to identify which components in the Ogasawara ecosystem are attractive to tourists. We develop an ecosystem model referencing the results of this research project and previous studies. By means of computer simulation, we try to ascertain whether ecosystems on the Ogasawara Island are sustainable, especially focusing on the attractive components mentioned above. In addition, cooperating with the Time Capsule Program for environmental specimens ongoing at NIES, we preserve samples of rare species.

  • Subtheme 3 Ecosystem functions, services, and connectivity in basin ecosystems between rivers and sea

Various factors, including artificial alteration in rivers and seas, increase/decrease of watershed loads caused by the development, increase/decrease of the socioeconomic utilization, invasion of alien species, climate change, are affecting maintenance mechanisms of populations and ecosystem functions in watershed ecosystems. We will present management and conservation framework toward sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services through the impact assessment. This subtheme includes programs in multiple regions. We examine if various ecosystem services have trade-offs or synergies and consider the conditions necessary to obtain the synergy effects. We will present a scenario for watershed management based on dialogues with local governments and stakeholders.