The 2017 International Ecology and Diversity Joint Field Course was hosted by the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan during July 28 to August 6. Besides students and faculty members of the Japanese host university, participants in the 10-day summer program also included six students and faculty members from Thailand's Prince of Songkla University, three from Indonesia's Bogor Agricultural University, six from Taiwan's Tunghai University, and five from the NTU College of Life Science.
The 19 participating students were divided into four working groups to learn firsthand about the subtropical ecology and biodiversity of the Ryukyu Islands. The international team of instructors relied on classroom lectures, fieldwork, and discussions to guide the students in pondering the wide range of issues addressed by the various fields of ecology and in analyzing problems through small group discussions.The instructors also held exchanges and discussions among themselves to identify possible areas for academic cooperation.
In the morning of July 29, Prof. Masako Izawaofthe University of the Ryukyus presented a lecture on auto-photography. The professor first discussed how to set up photographic equipment and select locations for studying species in their natural environments, and then took the students outside to set up photographic equipment at a campus pond.
In addition, Ryukyu's Prof. Shoichiro Suda led the students in collecting water samples at the pond's water entry and exit points, and demonstrated how to conduct water quality analysis and color extraction. That evening, the host university's Prof.Euichi Hirose escorted the students and other instructors to a nearby fishing harbor to collect samples for later experiments.
On the morning of July 31, everyone boarded a bus bound for Nagodake Mountain just outside of Nago City, where Ryukyu's Profs. MasatsuguYokota and Tetsuo Dendaintroduced the Kanna Yoriage Forest. In the afternoon, the students observed the wide variety of plants and animals which inhabit the Gesashi Mangrove Forest.
The bus delivered the students to the University of the Ryukyus's Sesoko Marine Station that evening. The next day, the students took part in a laboratory on coral reef organisms, including corals and seaweeds.
On August 3, after touring the University of the Ryukyus's university museum, the students organized their equipment and attended a briefing in preparation for an excursion to the Ginowan intertidal zone the following day. That night, Profs. Izawa and Hirose guided the students on a night walk on the University of the Ryukyus campus. They had the opportunity to observe over 10 Ryukyu flying foxes during the one-hour tour.
The program concluded on August 5 with group oral presentations and discussions, which stimulated enthusiastic responses from the students and faculty members.