The younger brother of zoologist Torajiro Watase, Shozaburo Watase graduated from Sapporo Agricultural College in 1884. He travelled to America in 1886 where he studied animal morphology at Johns Hopkins University. He was assistant professor at Clark University from 1890 to 1895, assistant professor at Chicago University from 1892 to 1895 and professor at the University of Tokyo from 1901 to 1924.
Watase held various posts in the Zoological Society of Japan and founded the Biogeographical Society of Japan (1928). He is famous for determining the Watase Line, a biogeographical boundary between Tokara Islands of Akusekijima and Takarajima. He introduced the small Asian mongoose from India into Okinawa with the aim of driving out the vole and trimeresurus. He also imported the American bullfrog to Japan for research purposes. He researched watasenia scintillans and coined the Japanese name of the species ‘hotaru ika’. Watase is also known for his work on Japanese dogs and his efforts towards the designation of the Akita dog breed as a natural monument.
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