ProjectsPast and current JFS projects


[Get Inspired by Nature] Inspired by Ecosystems

This page is devoted to both Japanese and overseas examples of technology derived from the study of ecosystems.
(See "Table legend" at the bottom of this page for an explanation of table content)

Photo by elizabethdonoghue
A mix of annual and perennial plants
Fertile soil with excellent water retention properties
The roots of perennials go deep and help to retain water. They also till the earth as they grow, and fungi and microorganisms attaching to the roots vitalize the soil.
Sustainable agricultural policies. Prairie farming, permaculture, natural systems agriculture
The Land Institute and many others
AskNature: Diversity creates long-term stability -- prairie grassland
Amazing Nature Database: Improving soil with prairie roots (Japanese only)


Photo by Rodents rule
Parasitic wasp
Parasitize aphids
Inhibiting the reproduction of aphids
Parasitic wasps inject eggs into aphids, which serve as a food source for the growing larvae. Aphids breed rampantly, but their reproductive rate can be significantly inhibited by parasitic wasps and other natural enemies.
Biopesticides - the use of natural enemies to inhibit pests
Amazing Nature Database: Controlling insects with insects (Japanese only)

Photo by gmayfield10
Canada goldenrod
Inhibits the growth of nearby plants
Goldenrod rhizomes release chemicals that inhibit the germination and growth of other plants.
Pesticide to inhibit weeds, etc.
National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, etc.
Amazing Nature Database: The land-grabbing Canada goldenrod (Japanese only)


Photo by Linrod
Red algae
Inhibits bacterial reproduction
Red algae secrete chemicals known as furanones that inhibit surface colonization by bacteria.
Use as antibacterial agent for kitchens, contact lenses etc., and in beverages, dentistry, apparel and other industries
Biosignal Co., etc.
Amazing Nature Database: Seaweed that exudes furanones to stay clean and healthy (Japanese only)


Photo by sponselli
Fallen leaves
Haphazard scattering
Carpet tiles
The overall appearance of leaves lying on top of each other is beautiful, despite the difference in size, shape and color of individual leaves.
Carpet tiles that can be replaced individually without appearing unnatural. This enables reduction of inventory, and used tiles can also be recycled.
Interface Inc.
Amazing Nature Database: Falling one by one to create a pretty leaf carpet (Japanese only)
Hozuki Saiso Exploring the Roots of Biomimicry in Thinker Winter 2011, pub. Shinshosha (Japanese only)

Photo by wwarby
Attracts the natural enemies of pests that eat its leaves
Release of odorous chemicals
Cabbages release different blends of odorous chemicals according to the insect pest eating their leaves to attract the natural enemies of that particular pest.
Development of pest eradication methods that do not use agrochemicals
Professor Junji Takabayashi et al., Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University (Japanese only)
Amazing Nature Database: Cabbages that SOS for bodyguards (Japanese only)

Photo by dbaron
Surviving winter by slowing down metabolism
Bears reduce metabolic activities to a quarter during hibernation without losing any muscle or bone.
Prevention of osteoporosis, development of techniques for maintaining bone strength during space travel
Professor Brian Barnes, University of Alaska
Nature Technology Database: Might bears be great space travelers? No bone loss even during hibernation (Japanese only)


Photo by Users' Photo Gallery.
Dappled forest sunlight, breezes, sound of waves, etc.
1/f fluctuation
Found also in the human pulse, body temperature variation and brain waves, 1/f fluctuation is a pattern that humans find comforting.
Incorporation of 1/f fluctuation to develop lamps, fans and other devices that provide a special comfort
East Japan Institute of Technology, etc.
Amazing Nature Database: Imbuing everyday life with a little fluctuation (Japanese only)

Table legend ask-nature01.jpg
photo creditLike ... (plant or animal)
What it is or does
Natural process involved
Potential application for human society
Researcher or research organization
Information source

ask-nature01.jpgThis mark signifies an example that has already been commercialized.

This project has been funded by Hitachi Environment Foundation under its fiscal 2011 funding program for NPOs.