By Nikka Garriga
MAASIN CITY, SOUTHERN LEYTE–Two new species of frogs and about 229 recorded flora species were discovered in a recent biodiversity resource assessment conducted in Leyte.
The two newly-discovered forest obligate species of frogs are part of the Platymantis genus that inhabit the mossy forests of the Nacolod Mountain Rage in Southern Leyte.
Its body size, coloration patterns and advertisement calls vary compared to other Philippine Platymantis frogs. The discovery is also considered the first that a Platymantis species belonging to the hazalae group was found in Visayas.
Filipino and American herpetologists are now working on the formal taxonomic classification of the species.
The month-long ground survey conducted by Fauna and Flora International presented an opportunity to document important information relating to the ecology and natural history of many vertebrates that are endemic to Leyte.
This includes 31 new floral species, 41 bird species, 17 mammal species and over 64 species of amphibians and reptiles, all of which are found only in the Philippines.
The information will serve as a basis to predict impact of habitat change on species and to come up with measures that would protect forest biodiversity.
For its part, the local government of Southern Leyte will be designing management systems and monitoring protocols to safeguard their ecosystems, establish local forests and biodiversity areas and make forest rehabilitation initiative more efficient.
This will also benefit local communities particularly those living near the fragmented forests of Mount Nacolod.
The study was intended to generate record inventories and practical information on key species for forest and biodiversity management planning.
It was conducted along with the National Museum of the Philippines and the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 8.
(Photo by Alvin Diesmos as seen in Mongabay.com)
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