Volume 15 Nos. 1 & 2

Spatial analysis of Important Bird Area boundaries in the Philippines: gaps and recommendations


Important Bird Areas (IBA) in the Philippines was identified using a set of international criteria to determine globally important priority areas for biodiversity conservation. The IBA boundaries were delineated using data on trigger bird species distribution coupled with available land cover data. Present conservation work has been guided using the IBAs as a directory of key conservation sites. But how relevant and accurate are the IBA boundaries, considering that less than 50% of Philippine IBAs are completely known ornithologically, and that the original IBA delineation relied on historical records of trigger bird species? The mapping of IBAs illustrated that the original IBA delineation was not well related to forest extents and that 46% of the country's forest habitats lay beyond IBA boundaries. Forests remained extensive within large Endemic Bird Areas (EBA) but smaller EBAs like Mindoro and Negros Panay had 8% and 5% forest left, respectively. Mining areas were heavily in conflict with IBAs wherein 21% of forests in IBAs were similarly undermining applications. The implications of the gaps in existing IBA boundaries were discussed in light of aggressive promotion of mining and how conservation work and policy agenda in the country could be affected. Challenges and threats in conserving the IBAs at the local and national levels were identified by examining overlaps with mining claims and conflicting tenurial instruments. The revision of original IBA boundaries should be implemented to conform better to forest boundaries, which may form the bases of protected area boundaries. Parameters on delineating IBAs should be developed using updated forest cover information, which can further improve the results of this IBA analysis. The IBA concept should also be applied to Key Biodiversity Areas with the inclusion of data on non-avian taxonomic groups.



Biodiversity and conservation priority setting in the Babuyan Islands, Philippines


A wildlife survey was conducted in the Babuyan Islands during 2004. The aims were to assess the fauna present, in particular the bird species; to identify threats to wildlife; and to determine priority habitats for conservation. The methodology included bird searches, mist netting, opportunistic recording of mammals, reptiles and amphibians and interviews with local residents. A scale to determine conservation priorities for specific habitats was developed using a matrix compressed of numbers of threatened species present and the level of local threat. Species lists for each island were compiled from this project and annotated with records from previous studies. The study recorded 126 bird species, 18 mammals, 31 reptiles and 7 amphibian species. A previously under scribed bird species was discovered, the Calayan Rail Gallirallus calayanensis and 18 globally threatened or near-threatened species were recoded, together with 21 endemic species. Current threats include illegal logging and fishing, slash and burn farming and heavy hunting pressures. Based on the habitat priority scale, two areas of lowland forest and the coastal waters off the Babuyan Islands were assigned Very High conservation priority status. The study concluded that the Babuyan Island group is a center of endemism, containing globally threatened species and habitats. It is recommended that further ecological research work be undertaken, protected areas be established, community conservation measures be implemented and a resource management plan be developed.



A pantropical review of the impact of logging on avian guilds, and avian guild composition in three rainforest sites including the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, Philippines


This paper has the following two objectives; first it covers a literature review on the impact of logging on avian guilds in tropical forests, and second it includes an analysis of the proportional avian guild structure in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, North Luzon, Philippines and two sites of tropical lowland forest in Camerron and Colombia. Regarding the first objective, it is concluded that in a variety of studies of responses of avian guilds to forest disturbance conducted at various scales in tropical forest in South America, Africa and Asia, understory and terrestrial insectivores emerge as the avian guilds most sensitive to logging disturbance. Regarding the analysis of the proportional avian guild composition of lowland forest bird communities in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP) in the Philippines and in two additional field-sites in Africa and South America, it is concluded that these show large variation in the proportions of arboreal frugivores, arboreal insectivores and carnivores, but similarities in the fractions of understory and terrestrial insectivores. These similarities may be an artifact of the small sample size, but the proportions of e.g. understory insectivores are such that they qualify in all sites as indicators of ecosystem health. Since geographical variation in proportional guild structure is expected, desired standards of performance for the proportions of certain avian guilds representing ecosystem health should be set at a case by case basis. This paper concludes that using species richness of flora and fauna in most criteria and indicator systems for Sustainable Forest Management is insufficient for monitoring the impact of disturbance and should be complemented with the analysis of sensitive avian guilds. Compared with species richness and more complex indices such as diversity indices and the number of red list species, keystone species and endemic species, the use of avian guilds has the added advantage of providing information on the direct functional relationship of birds with forest structure and changes in nutrient and energy flows in the ecosystem. Since species richness is already a requirement for monitoring in the most important forest certification schemes, the number of species in each guild can be calculated from existing species lists with relatively little effort. The impact of forest disturbance is very much a scale-dependent process, therefore monitoring should take place at the level and scale of the disturbance and not only at larger scales. More studies are needed, especially aimed at a quantification of species-abundance changes following logging disturbance of sensitive guilds at proper scale levels. In the Philippines, such studies would provide insights for the ongoing debate on the adaptability of endemic bird species to forest disturbance.



Diversity and community similarity of Pteropodids and notes on insectivorous bats in the Arakan Valley Conservation Area, Mindanao


Field surveys were conducted at the forest edge (1260 masl) and forest interior (1685 masl) of Mt. Mahuson, and at 870-1425 masl and 950-1430 masl of Mt. Sinaka, both within the Arakan Valley Conservation Area, Mindanao, species were common to all sites: Cynopterus brachyotis and two Philippine endemic species, Ptenochirus jagori and Ptenochirus minor. A poorly known species, Dyacopterus sp., was also captured in the edge of Mt. Mahuson. A total of 12 species, which is 16% of the total fruit bat species recorded in Mindanao, were identified for Mt. Sinaka and Mt. Mahuson. There were also two Rhinolophidae species and one Vespertilionidae species captured in Mr. Mahuson, Rhinolophidae species were captured in Mt. Sinaka. Using the Shannon-Wiener Index, the forest edge had low diversity as compared to forest interior on Mt. Mahuson; and elevation between 870-1425 masl has haigher diversity as compared to 950-1430 masl on Mt. Sinaka. Comparing the two sites of Mt. Mahuson resulted in a 13% community similarity while the two sites of Mt. Sinaka were 81% similar. The presence of endemic species in all sites implies that conservation should focus not only on higher elevations and areas that are undisturbed.



Diet analysis of two species of bee-eaters (Aves: Meropidae) based on regurgitated pellets


Regurgitated pellets were used to determine the diet of two sympatric bee-eaters, Merops philippinus philippinus (Linnaeus) and Merops viridis americanus (P.L.S. Muller) for two weeks during the breeding season of April to May 2001 in Calauit Island, Palawan. The immediate vicinity of the populations was monitored for pellet yield, pellet morphological characters (such as length, width, and weight), and prey composition. In comparison with literature data on gut or stomach analysis i bee-eaters and other insectivorous birds, pellet analysis provided comparable results on dietary spectrum. Further, pellet analysis allowed for the acquisition of large samples with very little expense of time and minimal disturbance to the target species. Though most prey fragments proved to be too small for specific identification, key body parts used in determining the prey types were relatively reliable. With multiple collections per day, variation of prey throughout the day was also noted. Apparently, though bee-eaters have a high preference for bees and their allies, they are opportunistic and would capture larger prey types (like the cicada) when available.



Local knowledge, use, and conservation status of the Malayan Softshell Turtle Dogania subplana (Geoffroy 1809) (Testudines: Trionychidae) in Southern Palawan, Philippines


This study investigated local knowledge, use and the conservation status of the Malayan Softshell Turtle Dogania subplana in Palawan. Surveys and interviews were conducted in nine villages of the municipality of Bataraza and in five villages of Rizal. A total of 110 people were interviewed between July and November 2004. All respondents were aware of D. subplana as the only softshell turtle in the area. The species resides in clean streams, where it can be found in crevices, under boulders, or on gravel substrate. Residents know the habits of the turtle very well and collect it for consumption or local trade following a long standing local tradition. Consumers utilize the turtle as food and for medicinal purposes. Buyers usually pay between 41 and 50 PHP (0.72-0.89 USD).

Interviews indicate that by the 1990s, international trade of preferably medium sized animals reportedly became noticeable. Identified traders were a Chinese business person from Manila and a Taiwanese of unknown residence. Most people interviewed refrained from answering trade related questions. Site visits revealed that D. subplana habitats on Palawan are threatened by slash and burn practices, illegal logging, erosion, and nickel mines of Rio Tuba, and that poaching is rampant in both municipalities. Presumably, the traditional collection of D. subplana was sustainable formerly but the increase in trade might justify a threatened conservation status and a possible future inclusion under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Florea and Fauna (CITES).

A follow-up study should be conducted over a longer period (at least three months) in order to determine the number of people involved in gathering and trading and the number of individual turtles traded. The collection of by-products such as eggs should also be studied. Ports of trade such as airports, harbors, and highway checkpoints should be monitored regularly for trade of wildlife.



Integration of wildlife education into the Philippine secondary schools learning competences: an environmental education strategy


A module on wildlife education was developed and integrated into the curriculum of selected secondary schools of Mindanao, Leyte, Samar, and Luzon from 1996 to 2002. Teachers' training was employed to improve teaching wildlife sciences in the classroom together with exposure workshops on wildlife and habitat management using workbook material developed by the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF). At least 1,788 teachers from 896 secondary schools were trained and involved, which potentially benefited at least 142,040 students. Pretest-Posttest assessments were conducted among 250 students from five participating schools in Luzon to look at the students' perception on environmental issues. The student-respondents scored 37% on the 32-item questionnaire during the pretest. In the posttest, the respondents scored 58%. The increase of correct answers with the posttest can be reasonably attributed to the use of PEF's workbook as an aid in teaching life sciences in the classrooms. However, more wildlife education and further studies on its effectiveness are needed.