PURPOSES OF THE FOUNDATION

The Ryukyu Archipelago is an island chain, stretching between Kyushu of Japan and Taiwan. Its terrestrial biota exhibits large taxonomic and lineage diversities, and high endemicity, most likely as a result of prevalence of warm humid climate and drastic variation of land configuration through prominent tectonic movements in this region. The sea around the Ryukyus is characterized by mangroves and coral reefs, and is regarded as representing the northernmost extremity of the tropical zone. Although the area borders the temperate waters around the Japan mainland, it accommodates a much higher biodiversity characteristic of tropical waters. Thus, the islands of the Ryukyus and their adjacent waters are expected to offer a fascinating opportunity to investigate the process of organismal diversification and the mechanisms operating for the maintenance of the resultant biodiversity. The fauna and flora of the subtropical rainforests, coral reefs and mangroves of the Ryukyu Archipelago are also expected to constitute various ideal model systems to pursue the patterns and processes of the impacts of human activities on natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Currently, this is of particular importance because anthropogenic environmental changes on the earth are currently one of the major concerns for the survival of the global ecosystem including human beings.

The Tropical Biosphere Research Center (TBRC) was established in 1994 as a Joint-Use Research Institute attached to the university. The main objective of the center is to promote broad based research activities on the diversity of our tropical and subtropical biota and the influences of various environmental factors on it. Ever since, TBRC has accepted more than ten thousand scientists per year, and contributed significantly to explore the principal mechanisms of life in tropical biota. In 2008, the TBRC combined with Center of Molecular Biosciences that was a university’s research institute, and has been equipped with more advanced facilities to deepen the studies to molecular level. By employing those natural resources and facilities, TBRC aimed high at collaboration with researchers all over the world to facilitate the research activities by through interdisciplinary collaborations, and to raise the young scientists.

History

Tropical Biosphere Research Center
Former Tropical Biosphere Research Center was established as a Joint-use Research Institute attached to the university to be a center for studies of biodiversity and interaction of organisms and environment in tropical and subtropical areas. The former center was organized in 1994 by unifying Sesoko Marine Science Center, which was cooperative facility in the university, Research Institute of Tropical Agriculture, which belonged to College of Agriculture, and Nishihara Laboratory, which was newly established in the university campus.

Center of Molecular Biosciences
Center of Molecular Biosciences (COMB) was established in 2001 by reorganization of the former Gene Research Center. COMB had been situated in the main campus of the University of the Ryukyus and had been a central research institute of molecular biosciences in the University.

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New Tropical Biosphere Research Center
The former Tropical Biosphere Research Center and Center of Molecular Biosciences are unified in 2009 to launch the new Tropical Biosphere Research Center.

ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT

ORGANIZATION OF FACITITIES

The Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus, consisted of Nishihara Station, Center of Molecular Biosciences (COMB), Sesoko Station and Iriomote Station. Nishihara Station and COMB are in the main campus of the university which is located in the southern part of Okinawa-Honto (the main-island of Okinawa). Sesoko Station stands on Sesoko Island, an islet off the northern part of Okinawa-Honto. Iriomote Station is located on Iriomote Island, about 430 km southwest of Okinawa Honto.

RESEARCH AND EDUCATION

Distinctive features

The salient feature of the Tropical Biosphere Research Center (TBRC) lies in its geographic location, which permits long-term in-situ studies on a tropical biota. The center is, therefore, expected to expand its activities in tropical and subtropical related research subjects in Japan. Many foreign and domestic researchers visit the center, and create fascinating opportunities to enjoy stimulating and constructive discussion. The geographic advantage is also beneficial to students in both education and research by providing an “in-situ class” with actual organisms in their natural habitats.

TBRC was designated from 1996-2000 as a Center of Excellence by the corresponding ministry and received additional funding for several research-supporting programs. In 2008, this Center was combined with Center of Molecular Biosciences (COMB), and the research area has been extended to include functional genomics, molecular biotechnology, bioremediation, immunobiology and molecular microbiology with increase in the number of staff members. Furthermore, the foreign scholar invitation program provides a good opportunity to promote activities at the international level, and the domestic scholar invitation program is helpful in expanding and facilitating the research activities on various different aspects.

Cooperative studies

Cooperate study program financially supports cooperative studies on tropical and subtropical biospheres by both domestic researches and TBRC faculty members and by domestic researches with the support of TBRC faculty members. Domestic researches apply for the program.

Cooperative workshops

Cooperative workshop program financially supports meetings for future cooperative research and symposiums on tropical and subtropical biospheres. Domestic researches apply for the program.

Education

Tropical Biosphere Research Center faculty members are involved in lectures, practical courses (e.g., the Marine Biology course, Tropical Agricultural course) and other activities for undergraduate and graduate education (Graduate School of Engineering and Science and Graduate School of Agriculture).

Publications

Tropical Biosphere Research Center publishes its annual report and newsletter (3 times par year).

Accommodation

Lodging facilities are available at Sesoko Station and Iriomote Station. The facilities are used by visitors for research and by participants for meetings and practical courses.