Volume 10 Nos. 1 & 2

Species List and Site Distribution: WCSP Proceedings 1999

Mammalian diversity in the Philippines: an assessment of the adequacy of current data


Although much basic information on the distribution and diversity of mammals has been gathered in the Philippines, analysis of data in the most recent synopsis (plus some supplemental information) demonstrates that while the mammalian faunas of a few islands in the country are moderately well known, we cannot be confident that all mammals that are present have been documented. The Babuyan, Batanes, and Sulu archipelagos are especially poorly known, but many other islands of all sizes are inadequately sampled. Among the three most speciose groups, fruit bats, insect-eating bats, and murid rodents, the fruit bats (family Pteropodidae) are the best known group, and there may be complete lists of species for some islands and provinces. Insect-eating bats are probably the least well known group, and there are probably no islands or provinces from which complete lists of species are available. Murid rodents are well known in some areas but poorly known in most; the large number of new species discovered and described recently implies that more remain to be discovered, especially in montane and mossy forest.

We recommend that more "benchmark" studies be conducted, with at least one in each biogeographic region and subregion; moderately thorough sampling using both traditional and novel methods is needed on most islands and in most provinces to permit an adequately complete picture of mammalian diversity for conservation planning and management. Surveys must be conducted in a scientifically robust fashion, including sampling in all habitats and at all elevations, documentation with voucher speciments deposited in permanent museum collections, and publication in peer-reviewed journals.



A preliminary analysis of current gaps in the protection of threatened Philippine terrestrial mammals


The Philippines has one of the greatest concentrations of mammalian diversity in the world, and also one of the greatest concentrations of endangered species. The current system of 18 priority site protected areas (designed under two projects funded by the GEF/World Bank and the European Union, 4 of which are marine and 14 of which are terrestrial or both) provides at least one protected area for 68% (36) of the 53 threatened species are terrestrial mammals, but 32% (17) entirely outside any of these Priority Sites. Seventy-five percent of the 53 species either do not have a stable population inside a Priority Site or the current information is too limited to know if they do. In order to provide minimal protection to the 16 threatened species that do not occur in any Priority Site, we recommend that a review of potential new Priority Sites be conducted, with Dinagat Island, Mt. Halcon, Tawi-Tawi Island, the region including Rajah Sikatuna Natural Park in Bohol, the region including St. Paul Natural Park in Palawan, Camiguin Island, and the mountains of western Panay as places that should be given close scrutiny, with Cuernos de Negros, Ilin Island, Busuanga, and Balabac also be given consideration. Much research on the ecology and conservation status of the endemic and threatened species is needed. Because additional new species of mammals are likely to be discovered that will require protection, and because similar analyses should be conducted on other organisms (plants, reptiles, insects, etc.), we recommend that periodic review and expansion of the number of Priority Sites should take place in order to protect the full diversity of natural life in the Philippines.



Updates on Ebola-Reston virus research activities on Long-tailed macaques in the Philippines


Ebola-Reston (EBO-R) virus infection has been implicated in at least 3 outbreaks of fatal disease among long-tailed macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) since 1989. Serologic surveillance to detect evidence of antigen and antibodies among newly caught and captive-bred monkeys has been done as a vital component of quarantine and regulation of trade. Three monkey breeding and rearing facilities are included in the current activity. From January to December 1998, a total of 1,284 were examined for antigen (n = 182) and IgG antibodies (n = 1,102) using ELISA technique. No new cases of Ebola-Reston virus infection were found since the last outbreak was controlled in February 1997. To genetically characterize EBO-R virus strains which caused the 1996 simian Ebola outbreak, a part of the genes of the three structural proteins, nucleoprotein (NP), glycoprotein (GP) and polymerase (L) were examined from frozen serum and liver samples by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay. Initial test results showed direct correlation with the routine antigen capture ELISA.



Captive breeding by natural pairing, incubation and chick-rearing methods for Philippine eagles


A pair of Philippine eagles was introduced for 8 months before placing them together in a common cage for captive breeding. The eagles copulated consistently and produced 2 eggs during the 1998-1999 breeding season. The first egg was infertile while the second clutch was fertile. The fertile egg, which was entirely artificially incubated, hatched on February 23, 1999. The eaglet was brooded in the Intensive Care Unit brooder, then transferred to a K-pad brooder, and then to an artificial nest inside the rearing room. Brooder temperature was lowered daily from 36.5oC to reach normal room temperature. Feeding was accomplished 3-4 times a day with the handler wearing a mask and using a Philippine eagle puppet to prevent the eaglet from imprinting on a human. This article describes the methods of pairing, the incubation and developmental patterns of the egg, and the techniques in rearing the eaglet during its most critical first few days.



Notes on movement and behavior of a post-fledging Philippine Eagle in Mt. Sinaka, Mindanao Island


We documented the diurnal activities and mapped the movements of a post-fledging Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) on Mt. Sinaka, Municipality of Aracan, Cotabato Province. We detected play activities and various exercises including wing flapping and practice glides. Intermittent, short distance movements and soaring were also observed. Juvenile movement during the first two months of observation was limited to within 0.6 km radius from the nest, about 1 km radius until the 4th month, and within 5 km after that. Plotting the observed locations on the map indicates that the range of movement of the 9-month old juvenile is about 4.025 km. Other observations suggest that the juvenile tended to be increasingly independent from the parents as time progressed, and ventured further away from the forest border more than the parents did.



Testing species limits of non-echolocating Philippine swiflets (Collocalia spp.) using molecular genetic data


Swiftlets are small, insectivorous birds that are distributed from the Indian Ocean, through southeast Asia and north Australia, to the Pacific. About 22 species of swiflets nest in caves or other dark places, where they navigate using a crude form of echolocation (Chantler and Driessens 1995). Three additional species, which are incapable of echolocation, do not nest in the dark. The 25 species of swiftlets are considered by many authors to represent the most difficult problem in the taxonomy of birds (e.g. Mayr 1937). This is because swiftlets show extreme morphological similarity, making species limits extremely difficult to decopher. Lee et al. (1996) used DNA sequence data to show that morphologically-based species concepts are seriously flawed for swiftlets. They also showed that the echolocating species (Aerodramus spp.) are not closely related to the non-echolocating species (Collocalia spp.)

Two of the three non-echolocating species occur in the Philippines, where C. troglodytes is endemic and C. esculenta is represented by four subspecies. One of the latter, C.e. marginata, is considered a distinct species by some workers (Sibley and Monrow 1990). We explored species limits of the Philippine Collacalia by sequencing the mitochondrial DNA of C. troglodytes and two of the C. esculenta subspecies. Our results show that C. troglodytes and C. esculenta differ in their cytochrome b sequences by approximately 9%, indicating that they speciated at least 4.5 million years ago (assuming a molecular clock). We further show that C.e. marginata and C.e. bagobo, found mainly on Luzon and Mindanao, respectively, differ in their cytochrome b species by 2.2%, suggesting that they split over a million years ago. The sizeable differences between these subspecies support the specific status of C.e. marginata, since the two subspecies are more genetically distinct than are many other sister species pairs of birds. Our results raise the total number of Collocalia spp. to four, two of which are endemic to the Philippines. It will be interesting to acquire and sequence tissue from the remaining two Philippine subspecies of C. esculenta, in order to resolve further the taxonomy of this difficult, albeit fascinating group of birds.



Notes on the distribution, abundance and behavior of the Tabon Scrubfowl (Megapodius cumingii) in Arreceffi Island, Baran alo, Puerto Princesa City, Philippines


Using individual counting methods, we confirmed six Tabon scrubfowls in Arreceffi Island. For this minimum count, two size groups were observed. Some of the smaller scrubfowls lack the prominent red facial skin reported for mature individuals. Pairings were observed in July 1998 and January-March 1999. No nests were confirmed. Limited sound patterns noted included exchanges between individuals. Low-density population (0.3 per hectare) was seen only in mangrove and beach forest habitats where vegetation impeded visual observation. The Tabon Scrubfowl can move to and from foraging sites by passing through "canal" networks within the mangrove forest when these are drained during low tide, sometimes pecking on objects within the "canals". Mangroves also served as a refuge area.



Monitoring for conservation and management: some empirical and theoretical approaches


The performance of natural populations and communities is temporally nd spatially dynamic. Thus, plans for species or community conservation may be enhanced by comprehensive knowledge of the relevant biology. However, it is often impractical or impossible to amass such information. We present empirical cases from the monitoring of populations of Pteropodid bats and Columbiform birds on the south Pacific island of Tutuila. These data illustrate: 1) the use of long-term monitoring of abundance for management of species historically subjected to hunting and unpredictable catastrophic weather disturbances; 2) field and analytical methods for the conduct of such a monitoring program; and 3) practical considerations relating to implementation of such approaches. Additionally, we consider qualitative theoretical approaches for those cases in which data on key variables in the community of interest are unavailable. Such an approach may be used to extrapolate future trends in difficult-to-monitor parameters of a system, or to suggest key indicator species.



The lizard genus Luperosaurus: taxonomy, history, and conservation prospects for some of the world's rarest lizards


Eight species are recognized in the southeast Asian gekkonine genus Luperosaurus. The Philippine species (L. cumingi, L. macgregori, L. palawanensis, and L. joloensis) constitute half of the content of the genus and are some of the most poorly known species of lizards in the world. Each species is known from fewer than eight specimens, and most are represented by fewer than two specimens or a single holotype. The history of the discovery, systematics, and the relationships of the species are discussed. The paucity of museum specimens, lack of associated ecological data, and the older age of many of the available specimes conspire to prevent a realistic understanding of much of the natural history of these elusive Philippine endemics. So littlee is known about Luperosaurus species that we are compelled to recommend increased faunal survey efforts in the remaining higher forest canopies in spite of the fact that we suspect the Philippine species are severely threatened by deforestation. Although we support conservation programs that prevent excessive harvesting and exploitation of other well-known species of Philippine reptiles (i.e. sea turtles and endangered species of monitor lizards), Luperosaurus species are so poorly known that to restrict scientists' access to Philippine populations would be premature, counterproductive, and misdirected.



Zoo and community-based frog conservation in Australia


Amphibian declines constitute a well-recognized global problem that is being tackled at many levels by many groups and individuals around the world. The Declining Amphibian Populations Task Force, created as a specific initiative of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission in 1991, is the key coordinating body at the international level. Australia is fortunate to have had a very active herpetological community for at least the last 40 years, although a broad interest in frogs and their conservation is more recent.

Zoo participation in frog management and conservation in Australia is now being coordinated nationally through the Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group of the regional zoo association, and via direct links with the Federal Government's National Threatened Frog Group, which has representation from academia, state and federal wildlife agencies, zoos, and community groups. The zoos themselves are already involved with collaborative conservation programs for Fleay's Barred Frog, Green & Golden Bell Frog and Southern Bell Frog, all threatened species; and have active educational programs involving school students and visitors. Among these programs is Frog Week, which is an annual event attracting corporate support.

Community support for native frogs is also growing rapidly particularly on the east coast, with at least seven active frog groups. These groups play an important role in raising community awareness about frogs through publications, advice for keeping frogs, talks to schools, promotions at local festivals and general advocacy. Some are now also undertaking important habitat restoration projects, in conjunction with local councils.

A range of these initiatives will be covered.