An Oriental experience   Leave a comment

This time last month I was in Wakayama in Japan where I was representing the UK at the International Joint Meeting on Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera.  Nearly 80 delegates, including the great and the good of the Mayfly/Stonefly world were there and the meeting was packed with interesting papers.

The highlight for me was a new technique which allows you to examine the internal anatomy of insects with dissecting them.  This technique, based on tomography (like CT scanning) takes virtual slices through the animal which are then reconstructed with a computer.  The results are unbelievable – for an example of just what this technology can do, have a look at Javier Alba-Tercedor’s movies on YouTube.  My personal favourite is the adult mayfly.

Another highlight were the field trips.  The first was to the Nyu river where we encountered the local fauna. You’ll probably be surprised to hear that it wasn’t that different to what we get in the UK.  Certainly, the species were different, however the main families Ephemeridae, Heptageniidae, Ephemerellidae, Baetidae, Siphlonuridae, Leptophlebiidae and Potamanthidae were all instantly recognisable.  Even some of the UK species are found in Japan.  Cloeon dipterum, the Pond olive, is common in Japan and we learned in one talk at the conference that this species is now found around the world, and as such is probably the most successful mayfly species so far.

Endemic Japanese mayfly

An endemic Japanese mayfly
Dipteromimus tipuliformis

The afternoon was devoted to helping local school children to identify aquatic insects that they had collected from the river.  This was incredibly good fun and surprisingly, the language barrier was no problem at all!  The whole event was streamed live to the internet – there was even an interview with yours truly!

Our second field trip was to the kumano-kodo area.  We couldn’t have got a more contrasting demonstration of river management.  On our first field trip we were the guests of a river conservation project which had fought (successfully) against a hydro-scheme on their river.  Our second river was being systematically re-modelled – perhaps vandalised would be a better term….  The devastation was everywhere.  It was really hard to comprehend the scale of the damage being wrought upon these rivers.  It appears that it was a massive flood prevention scheme in the wake of a typhoon last year, however you had to feel that all this (probably expensive) work would ultimately be futile against the sort of floods that can result from a typhoon.

Extreme river engineering

My attendance at this meeting was for three reasons: to present a paper on the work of the Riverfly Recording Schemes; to display a poster on the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative; and most importantly, to present a proposal to host the next International Joint Meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland in 2015.  Our proposal was up against an excellent proposal from Frederico De Salles from Brazil and after lengthy discussions the IJM permanent committee decided to accept both proposals with the meeting being held in Scotland in 2015 and Brazil in 2018.  A great result but now the hard work begins!

I’d like to acknowledge the support from Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, the Riverfly Partnership, Freshwater Biological Association and the Salmon and Trout Association, without which I would not have been able to attend the conference.

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Posted July 7, 2012 by macadac1 in International

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