Taking the high way through life

| Nov 21, 2002

Taking the high way through life

If you were an ant, multi-limbed with a ground-hugging body, a trip across the forest floor would present you with a daunting obstacle course. Each fallen twig would be a wall to climb; each wind-blown leaf a teetering trap poised to tip and sluice ...

A venerable flash in the pan

| Nov 7, 2002

A venerable flash in the pan

Among Japan’s amazing diversity of plants that can overwhelm a visitor from overseas, there are (thankfully) some familiar forms. Astonishingly, given the literally hundreds of thousands of plant species on Earth, some here will be familiar whether you hail from North or South America, ...

Birds' island havens failing whole species

| Oct 31, 2002

Birds' island havens failing whole species

Teuri-jima Island is a special place, being a legally protected breeding habitat of seabirds. It was also the main subject of a recent Japan-U.S. government-level symposium in the nearby mainland town of Haboro, Hokkaido. Shocking facts emerged from that meeting. Over recent decades, local ...

Ticks: playing a waiting game to gorge on blood

| Oct 17, 2002

Ticks: playing a waiting game to gorge on blood

Being in the field for several months each year in search of wildlife to study, photograph and write about may sound wonderful, and it certainly does make for an exciting life. There is a downside, though, because there’s also wildlife out there looking for ...

Homing in on a sound of autumn

| Oct 3, 2002

Homing in on a sound of autumn

Thump . . . thud . . . and thump again. It’s a perennial autumn sound — the sound of falling fruit. Overripe on the branch, sometimes already rotting, apples, pears, persimmons and plums fall and burst, splattering strong-smelling juices that don’t long go ...

Prehistory still abounds in everyday life

| Aug 29, 2002

Prehistory still abounds in everyday life

In the course of a normal day, the word “fossil” may quite possibly never occur to you. Fossils are, however, crucial to many aspects of daily life. Coal, natural gas and oil (whose multifarious derivatives include many plastics), for instance, are not called “fossil ...

Isolation spells survival in the Sea of Okhotsk

| Aug 15, 2002

Isolation spells survival in the Sea of Okhotsk

In penguinlike tuxedoed masses, the Tyuleni Island murres were standing in murmuring hordes, crowding the rock ledges of their remote breeding colony off the east coast of Sakhalin in the Sea of Okhotsk. Their extinct, giant relative, the great auk (Pinguinus impennis), was the ...

A camphor by any other name

| Aug 1, 2002

A camphor by any other name

Growing among the the laurel-dominated evergreen forests of central and southern Japan is a tree with a host of names and a host of uses. This member of that dominant family (Lauraceae) goes by the name kusu-no-ki (tree that came from the south) in ...