Study Highlights Amazing Biodiversity Of Philippines
February 8, 2013

Study Highlights Amazing Biodiversity Of Philippines

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

A recent study of the amphibians and reptiles of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, located in the northeast region of the Philippine island of Luzon, revealed more than 100 species that add to the unique biodiversity of the region. Currently, more than 150 species round out Luzon's herpetological niche, with a total of 49 amphibians. Of those, 44 are native to the island and 32 endemic to the region. The reptile count is even higher, with 106 native species, of which 76 are unique to the region.

A catalogue of herpetological species was published in the journal Zookeys, featuring a fascinating range of reptiles and amphibians. One such species is the beautifully colored colubrid snake, Hologerrhum phillippinum, one of four endemic snake genera in the region. The colubrid can be recognized by its vibrant-yellow skin decoration. Another species in the catalog is the Pelochelys cantorii, or the soft-shelled turtle. The catalog describes a wide variety of fascinating frogs, crocodiles, snakes, lizards and other animals, documented with stunning photography.

The northern Philippines, with its rich biodiversity, has become the focus of large numbers of new studies describing newly found or re-discovered species over the last few decades. Scientists predict that the herpetological diversity of the island may grow to include as many as 90-100 amphibian species — with 70-80 percent being endemic — and between 150-160 reptile species.

The major challenge for the future is to monitor these emerging communities to assess their responses to land use changes, climate change, resource extraction, introduced species, emerging infectious diseases, and habitat degradation.

This survey of species provides an initial baseline for further studies in taxonomy, bigeography, ecology and conservation of northern Luzon's amphibians and reptiles. Such conservation remains an ongoing effort that faces challenges from rapid development, logging, mining and conversion of natural habitats into agricultural lands to provide food for a growing human population.