1997 NSF Annual Report
DEB-9505031, $246,826, 15 August 1997--31 July 1998

Goals.--Following the success of our 1994 "proof of concept" award (see 1994 NSF Project Report), and Years One and Two of the present grant (see 1995 and 1996 NSF Annual Reports), the primary goal of this fourth of six expeditions to the Kuril Archipelago was to continue our survey northward to five islands that make up the northernmost part of the chain: Paramushir, Makanrushi, Shumshu, Alaid (Atlasova), and Antsiferova (see Map-based locality record browser). We also planned to return to a number of previously under-collected localities on central and southern islands visited in previous years [i.e., Brat Chirpoev, Lovushki, Urup, Ushishir (Ryponkicha and Yankicha), Iturup, and Kunashir]. Reflecting a change in the scope of the project, approved by NSF in January 1996, we determined to redirect efforts and resources toward invertebrates (primarily terrestrial insects) at the expense of birds and mammals (see Island Info). In every way these goals were met.

1997 IKIP participants at sea aboard the 68.8-m Professor Bogorov

Results to date.--An international team of 28 students and scientists--13 on the Russian Team, five on the Japanese Team, and 10 on the American Team (see Project Participants, 1997 Expedition)-met in Vladivostok, Russia, on 21 July 1997, boarded the 68.8-m Professor Bogorov, a research vessel of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and spent 28 days in the field (considerably fewer than the 33 days logged last year and 42 days logged the year before due to unusually bad weather--by far the worst we have ever experienced in the Archipelago).

Five islands of the northern Kurils, five from the central Kurils, and two from the southern group were visited, as well as the mainland of the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka. Collections were made at 1,311 sites (see IKIP Databases)--somewhat more than the 1,167 sites collected in 1995 and 1,142 in 1996, despite fewer days in the field and the bad weather: Paramushir 477, Shumshu 302, Kamchatka 12, Alaid (Atlasova) 84, Antsiferova 26, Makanrushi 105, Lovushki 5, Ushishir 82 (Ryponkicha 43, Yankicha 39), Brat Chirpoev 48, Urup 2, IturupIturup 116, and Kunashir 52 (see Map-based locality record browser)--in widely varying habitats, similar to those collected in previous years (see Macro- and microhabitats of the Kuril Islands): from sea-level sandy-, rocky-beach, and grassland to high-mountain stream/conifer forest; from deep, slow-moving lowland rivers to fast-flowing gravelly streams; and from sphagnum bogs to high mountain lakes.

A lake on Shumshu, with Alaid in the background, northern Kuril Islands

Collecting was confined primarily to vascular plants, aquatic and terrestrial insects, spiders and harvesters, freshwater and terrestrial mollusks, freshwater and anadromous fishes, amphibians, and reptiles (smaller collections of fungi, lichens, mosses, liverworts, diatoms, pseudoscorpions, mites, decapods, water fleas, centipedes, millipedes, marine fishes, and marine mammals were also made). In addition to bad weather (significantly worse than we've experienced in the past), certain uncontrollable difficulties inherent in the project repeated themselves this year (such as impenetrable vegetation making adherence to transects impossible and difficult shore landings at some sites). However, the problems we experienced in 1994 of gaining access to certain islands and to sites within islands did not reoccur. Our research vessel, the 68.8-m Professor Bogorov, which also served as our base of operations in 1994 and 1995 (the 75-m Akademik Oparin was used in 1996), was very comfortable and ably managed by its Russian crew of 32 (see Russian Research Vessels).

Research products.--Although counts are still preliminary--and despite the considerably less diverse biotas of the northernmost islands and fewer days in the field (compared to last year)--approximately 53,155 specimens were successfully exported to the U.S. (compared to 63,700 specimens exported in 1996):

Hemerocallis middendorffii (left) from Iturup and Dianthus superbus (right) from Kunashir

Plants: about 3,200 specimens of vascular plants, representing 52 families and approximately 310 species, plus 700 specimens of lichens (included here among plants for convenience only), and 540 bryophytes and hepatophytes (mosses and liverworts), for a grand total of approximately 4,400 specimens; two or three lichen and bryophyte taxa appear to be new to science; about 360 new records of vascular plants for various islands (for which plant collections have not been reported previously) and, among lichens and bryophytes, at least ten new records for the Archipelago. Aquatic insects: 5,248 specimens, representing 22 families and a minimum of 97 species, of which 18 represent new records for various islands and six represent new records for the Archipelago. Terrestrial Insects: about 27,065 specimens, representing 17 orders, about 90 families, and perhaps as many as 650 species; the material undoubtedly includes new taxa and many new records, but less than half the collection has been sorted to species and much is not yet even sorted to family. (See IKIP Insect Report for a comprehensive report on the research results for both aquatic and terrestrial insect groups.) Spiders and harvesters: 7,008 specimens, representing 20 families and 151 species, of which at least 10 are thought to be new to science; at least 75 species represent new records for various islands (prior to last summer, spiders had never been reported from five of the islands visited in 1997: Ryponkicha, Lovushki, Antsiferova, Makanrushi, and Brat Chirpoyev), and at least 35 species are new to the Archipelago (but much of the material remains to be sorted and identified, and some that is sorted is identified only to genus). Mollusks: 6,520 specimens, representing 16 families and a minimum of 21 species, of which at least two species appear to be new to science, and of which 48 represent new species records for various islands and two represent new species records for the Archipelago. Freshwater fishes: 1,980 specimens, four families, and 11 species. Marine fishes: 620 specimens, seven families, and 23 species, of which one represents a new record for the Archipelago. Amphibians and reptiles: 44 specimens, three families, and three species.

Elaphe japonica, a colubrid snake from Kunashir, southern Kuril Islands

The plants, spiders and harvesters, and fishes are presently being identified and cataloged here at the University of Washington in the Department of Botany, Burke Museum, and School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, respectively. The majority of the insects are being curated at the Department of Entomology, California Academy of Sciences, but certain groups, e.g., the aquatic and hymenopteran taxa, are being housed here in the Fish Collection for study and management by IKIP entomologists Noboru Minakawa and Brian Urbain. The mollusks are being processed at the Delaware Museum of Natural History, by Tim Pearce, but are eventually destined to join previously collected and cataloged IKIP material at the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Curatorial work on the mollusks and vertebrates is well in hand, but much remains to be done with the plants and other invertebrates.

Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) from Lovushki, central Kuril Islands

Considerable time and effort has gone toward creating, maintaining, and updating an IKIP web-site, the heart of which is our search gateway to IKIP Databases: (1) Forms-based database search gateway, (2) Map-based locality record browser, and (3) Loans and Gifts of IKIP material (please note that our IKIP web-site was developed without the use of NSF funds). Since our return from the Kurils in September 1997, we have been working hard to make all our data available electronically, but dealing with tens of thousands of specimens, it has been a major undertaking. All of our 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 locality data are on-line (4,191 sites on 26 islands) and we have entered in excess of 5,100 taxonomic records. To date, all of the following have been identified, cataloged, and made available on the web-site: all Hemiptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera, Neuroptera, Dermaptera, aquatic and carabid Coleoptera, spiders, mollusks, and fishes from the 1994 expedition; all plants, Ephemeroptera, Heteroptera, Plecoptera, Trichoptera, Neuroptera, Dermaptera, Psocoptera, aquatic beetles, mollusks, and fishes from the 1995 expedition; all Heteroptera, Plecoptera, silphid Coleoptera, and fishes from the 1996 expedition; and all fishes from the 1997 expedition.

A rough landing on the coast of Paramushir Island, northern Kuril Islands

Human resource development.--Two University of Washington undergraduates, Birgit Semsrott (plants) and Todd Ritchie (insects) (both supported by REU funds, see below), and two UW graduate students, Noboru Minakawa (aquatic insects) and Duane Stevenson (fishes), all full participants in the 1997 expedition, received training in field work, curatorial practices, and systematics within their areas of interest. Their experience continues here at home as collections are being sorted and identified, and publications prepared.

We've also provided curatorial training and experience to a number of unpaid volunteers at the Burke Museum. The most production of these individuals has been Janet Wall who has been immensely valuable to us in working with IKIP spiders. From May 1996 through December 1997, Janet donated 476.5 hours of her time. Her work included the massive job of double-checking, plotting, and correcting all the field locality data for all spiders collected in 1995 and 1996 (approximately 12,200 specimens). During curation of the 1995 specimens, she was responsible for cutting, washing, and inserting the final labels into vials, filling and stoppering the vials, and arranging and integrating the material with the 1994 collections. She was also responsible for selecting a portion of the 1995 specimens that could be "spared" for transfer as a gift to the California Academy of Sciences. In addition, Janet did the majority of the data entry required to make the 1995 spider data available on the IKIP web-site.

1997 REU participants, Todd Ritchie and Birgit Semsrott

Research Experiences for Undergraduates supplemental support received in 1997 was well used. One of the two recipients, Todd Ritchie, assisted in the collection of approximately 32,300 insects (5,250 aquatic and 27,050 terrestrial), which he helped to sort, label, and identify to order, much of the work accomplished while still aboard the research vessel. He was responsible also for key-boarding all of our 1997 locality data, a huge task that was accomplished with very few errors. Overall, the experience had a profound effect on him: "By documenting detailed observations of microhabitats of species, I began to understand the complexities of aquatic-terrestrial interactions and of biodiversity in general. I now have a real appreciation for the diversity, beauty, and significance of insects! But, the most rewarding aspect of participation in IKIP, was the experience of working and living with scientists from Russia, Japan, and the United States, and the camaraderie attained through a common interest in the preservation of biodiversity." Todd has not decided on an area of specialty, but he appears to be on his way toward becoming a professional zoologist.

Birgit Semsrott, the second recipient of 1997 REU support (and a veteran of our 1996 expedition), assisted in the collecting, sorting, drying, and identification of plants during IKIP-1997, helping to bring back a total of about 4,440 specimens (more than 1,900 of which she collected on her own). Her proficiency in field identification improved steadily this year--she has become especially skilled in her ability to recognize and collect lichens. Her extensive and accurate field observations made on fresh material have proved to be critical in subsequent identification. She also photographed many plants in the field--we feel certain that, between the two botanists associated with the project, we now have by far the most complete photographic record of Kuril Island plants in existence. In addition, Birgit has given several botanical seminars based on her Kuril Island experience, one for the Seattle Lichen Guild and another for the UW Undergraduate Botany Club. She was also recently featured in the UW Botany Department alumni newsletter: "Botany Undergraduate Finds Adventure in the Kuril Islands," Newsletter of the Department of Botany, University of Washington, 1(1):4-5, January 1997. Although not a co-author, Birgit assisted in preparing a "Flora of Chirpoi," published by IKIP botanists in August 1997 (Acta Phytotaxonomica et Geobotanica, 48:31-42). Her contributions to IKIP botanical work will find outlet in the coming year as co-author on papers concerning the floras of Raikoke, Ekarma, Kharimkotan, and Chirinkotan. Birgit is now a graduate student at Humboldt State University, where she is working on insect-plant interactions (pollination ecology) and serving as a teaching assistant in "Plant Systematics."

A 4-cm long orbweaver, Araneus marmoreus, female, from Kunashir, southern Kuril Islands

Loans and gifts.--We have worked hard to make our material available to the international scientific community through loans and gifts of specimens. To date, we have made 62 loans and gifts (whole specimens as well as tissues fixed in ethanol) to 54 specialists around the world, totalling 2,540 lots and 30,577 specimens.

Seminars and media attention.--We have made a concerted effort to inform academic as well as public audiences about IKIP through oral presentation, and have received considerable attention from the media in return. To date, veterans of IKIP have presented more than two dozen scientific talks and have been the subject of more than a dozen articles in newspapers and magazines. The 1996 expedition was recorded in full by three employees of the Hokkaido Television Broadcasting Co. (Yasumasa Shinomiya, writer; Osamura Hidetoshi, photographer; and Nikolai Shapotin, interpreter), resulting in a 30-minute television production that was aired in Japan on 2 March 1997. A 90-minute show on the people and general natural history of the Kuril Islands, which aired in April 1997, also featured IKIP-1996. Copies of these videos were made available to NSF last spring. The 1997 expedition was recorded in full by South Korean Television, Soo Yong Park, Producer, but we have not yet received copies of the video.

Highlights of the 1997 Expedition quoted in the media include:

Wingless fly from Lovushki, Scathophaga exalata, recently described by IKIP scientists

"A new species of strange wingless fly, discovered in dung-covered marine mammal rookeries and seabird nests, sends international team of explorers scrambling on remote Lovushki Rocks. This new life form, first identified by [IKIP] scientists in 1995 and recently named Scathophaga exalata, is known from 19 individuals found only on five tiny volcanic islands in the Russian Kuril Archipelago."

Alaid Volcano four days prior to a major eruption

"Scientists escape near disaster. Dormant for decades, Alaid Volcano on the Russian Kuril island of Atlasova erupted only days after a team of biologists from the United States, Russia, and Japan made collections of plants and animals. They were certainly the last to see the island in its pristine state."

"A giant, three-inch-long beetle, called Damaster blaptoides rugipennis, discovered by UW biologist Brian Urbain on a remote island in the Kuril Archipelago, is the first of its kind to be found outside of continental Asia."

"Sound bites" reported last year, of some of the more exciting discoveries to date, are still being quoted by the media:

"Bogs pockmarked with pools of water barely two feet across but plunging a number of unsuspecting scientists in over their heads. Scientists still aren't sure how deep the pools are because they couldn't touch the bottoms even when they knelt by the edges and reached down as far as they could with their eight-foot-long dip nets. Scientists are puzzling over the fishes found in every pool they sampled: How did the fishes get there? Are the individual "wells" connected underground?"

"One small island, only five miles across, supports grasslands, large lakes, and two trees: There used to be five trees, Pietsch was told, but a tsunami 15 years ago swept across the entire island and carried three of the trees into the sea."

"Bamboo forests 10 feet tall and nearly impossible to walk through that teemed with spiders--much to the delight of the expedition's arachnid expert. Last year's efforts have produced upwards of 20 never-before-seen spiders from just four islands."

Hydrothermal springs on Kunashir, home to an undescribed
species of fish, a goby of the genus Chaenogobius

"An island with pools and streams of 41º C (106º F) water, fed by volcanic hot springs and inhabited by tiny fishes called gobies." This is probably our single most interesting finding to date: a tiny, isolated ecosystem of thick mats of bacteria, aquatic insects, and gobies, at the bottom of a deep valley on Kunashir, driven by, and maintained long-term through the severe cold of winter by hot water. We plan to return to this site during future expeditions to study its ecology; it would be especially interesting to visit this site during mid-winter, when we imagine the hot pools surrounded by three-meter "cliffs" of snow and ice.

Publications.--Thirty-eight papers have now been published. An additional seven are in press, another five have been submitted, and about 20 are at various stages of preparation. Thirty-two descriptions of new taxa have been published or are currently in press or submitted for publication: six new species of caddisflies (Trichoptera: Hydroptilidae, Leptoceridae), one new stonefly (Plecoptera: Perlodidae), one new beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae), three new flies (Diptera: Scathophagidae, Syrphidae), one new bug (Hemiptera: Miridae), 10 new parasitic wasps (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), four new freshwater bivalves (Bivalvia: Unionidae, Anodontidae), five new terrestrial and freshwater gastropods (Gastropoda: Planorbidae, Valvatidae), and one new fish (Teleostei: Osmeridae).

Among our larger publication efforts is Y. N. Zhuravlev and A. S. Kolyada's book on the biology of ginseng published in 1996: Araliaceae: Ginseng and Other Aralia of the Russian Far East, Dalnauka, Vladivostok, 280 pp., 41 black and white figures, 8 color plates, 11 tables, and 859 bibliographic references. That portion of the book that covers Kuril Island species was funded in part by DEB-9400821 and DEB-9505031; NSF is properly acknowledged on page 1 of the front matter.

Our second larger publication effort, for which we received supplemental support from NSF, is an English translation of G. O. Kryvolutskaja's Entomofauna of the Kuril Islands, originally published in 1973 by the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences, Far-Eastern Scientific Center, Russian Academy of Science, which is being edited, augmented, illustrated in color, and made available electronically. The book has now been completely translated by Elliott B. Urdang, M.D., M.A. (in Russian), of Providence, Rhode Island, and all parts have been delivered to us by diskette and hard-copy: the Abstract, Preface, and Table of Contents (5 pages), Chapter 1, "History of investigations of the insect fauna of the Kuril Islands" (7 pages); Chapter 2, "General information on the insects of the Kuril Islands" (8 pages); Chapter 3, "Accounts of insect taxa of the Kuril Islands" (including methods and materials, keys, descriptions, and general taxonomic accounts by order; 130 pages); Chapter 4, "Ecological and geographic review of the Kuril Island entomofauna" (including physical conditions of the Kuril Islands, ecological features of the Kuril Islands, and insect assemblages and primary habitats of the Kuril Islands; 82 pages); Chapter 5, "Speciation on the Kuril Islands" (10 pages), Chapter 6, "Zoogeography of the Kuril Island entomofauna" (including geological history and floral evolution, zoogeographic origins and trends, and subdivision of the Kuril Archipelago based on insect distributions; 28 pages); Conclusion (4 pages); Summary (2 pages); Literature cited (15 pages), Index of scientific names of insects (19 pages); List of scientific and Russian names of plants (2 pages); all the tables (22); and the legends to all the figures (67). The Abstract, Preface, Chapter 1, Conclusions, and Summary have now been edited and are available on the web-site. Work on the remaining chapters is in progress.

Similar plans to publish electronically V. Y. Barkalov's Plants of the Kuril Islands, are currently on hold while we await delivery of the manuscript. Although promised to us back in June 1997, his approximately 650-page work is still not finished.

Forbidding coast of Antsiferova island, northern Kuril Islands

Plans for summer 1998.--We are now in preparation for the coming summer expedition (approximately 15 July--8 September 1998), during which time we will return to the southernmost islands of the chain: Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan, and the isles of the Habomai Group. Although we made large collections on four of the southern islands in 1994, only 31 actual field days were available to us, many of the numerous available habitats were inadequately surveyed, and major taxa were not collected (e.g., plants and terrestrial insects); it is thus crucial that we go back to these islands, the most biologically diverse of the chain (see Map-based locality record browser).

Thank you for the generous support we have received. We hope this brief report meets with your satisfaction.

Returning home to Professor Bogorov after a long day of collecting on Iturup, southern Kuril Islands

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