Conducting field research is one of the key approaches PBCFI takes to drive its conservation programme. Scientific data regarding biodiversity, status of particular species as well as habitat conditions can guide the investment of effort and funds on areas and species that are most in need. Authorities involved in land use planning and extraction of forest resources also rely on credible information produced by our researchers to better manage forested areas. Most such research has also been conducted by Filipino biologists, who are usually assisted by local biology students; thereby ensuring high continued high levels of personnel training and skills transfer. In addition, the PBCP also operates the NEZS – Filipino Biodiversity Studentship Scheme, which provides additional funding support for Filipino biologists conducting useful research in any area or topic of demonstrable benefit to wildlife conservation. From time to time, the discovery of new or previously extinct species have sparked greater interest and conservation efforts among local communities.
Over the years, PBCFI has conducted extensive research and produced baseline biological data for each of the regional biodiversity conservation programmes. The following examples of our recent research work showcase the diverse approaches we employ and the value of continuing efforts in data collection.
Smaller Islands Biodiversity Conservation Program
Biological surveys conducted on Calamian Islands in 2010 resulted in the first confirmed record of the flying fox (Acerodon leucotis) in Culion Islands, the discovery of a new species of Pencil-tailed Mouse and at least three possible new species of insect bats. New bird species were also recorded. These exciting results were presented to the local government and community, that have since implemented initiatives to promote conservation. Their efforts are likely to give eco-tourism a boost.
On Camiguin Sur Island, the recent discovery of the endemic Camiguin Hawk-owl (Ninox leventisi) has propelled the importance of wildlife and forest protection in the area. There are plans to conduct in-depth studies on this species and use it as a springboard to garner further conservation support. PBCFI is also working in partnership with academic institutions including Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology and Camiguin Polytechnic State College to train future biologists and to administer regular biodiversity monitoring.
Recent research activities on Cebu Island have been centered on the Cebu Hawk-owl, which will potentially be elevated to a full species, instead of its current status as a subspecies of the more widespread Philippine Hawk-owl. Radio-telemetry studies were conducted in 2011 to estimate the size of remaining populations. The limited availability of tree cavities for nesting in the degrading forests is suspected to be the reason for its low numbers. PBCFI’s research team intends to experiment with the use of artificial nest boxes as an in situ conservation intervention.
Aside from data collected in the field, our researchers also rely on other sources of information such as museum records and validated species records from bird-watchers. Our researchers recently conducted a review using diverse sources of information and put together an updated biodiversity profile for each forest patch on Negros Island. This serves as a crucial input for the planned update of the Provincial Environment Code.