Table of Contents

by Peter K. L. Ng and Jose Christopher E. Mendoza

Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2020, DOI: 10.26757/pjsb2020b14001

Abstract (Primary Research Paper)

Date Posted (Final Published Version) :August 3, 2020

Abstract

The poorly known Philippine freshwater crab, Sundathelphusa picta (von Martens, 1868) from Luzon Island is re-described and re-illustrated, using type material as well as other specimens sampled from near its type locality. Two similar congeners from Luzon, S. uva sp. nov. and S. angelito sp. nov., from the provinces of Bataan and Rizal, respectively, are described as new. These three species are united by their relatively small size, rounded and dome-shaped carapaces, proportionately short ambulatory legs, and stout male first gonopods. They are distinguished from each other by a suite of morphological characters, particularly of the carapace, male pleon and gonopods.

KEYWORDS: Decapoda, Sundathelphusa uva, Sundathelphusa angelito, taxonomy, Bataan, Bicol, Rizal

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by Camila G. Meneses, Cameron D. Siler, Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, Perry L. Wood, Jr., and Rafe M. Brown

Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2020, DOI: 10.26757/pjsb2020b14002

Abstract (Primary Research Paper)

Date Posted (Final Published Version) :August 10, 2020

Abstract

We report on the first molecular estimates of phylogenetic relationships of Brachymeles dalawangdaliri (Scincidae) and Pseudogekko isapa (Gekkonidae), and present new data on phenotypic variation in these two poorly known taxa, endemic to the Romblon Island Group of the central Philippines. Because both species were recently described on the basis of few, relatively older, museum specimens collected in the early 1970s (when preservation of genetic material was not yet standard practice in biodiversity field inventories), neither taxon has ever been included in modern molecular phylogenetic analyses. Likewise, because the original type series for each species consisted of only a few specimens, biologists have been unable to assess standard morphological variation in either taxon, or statistically assess the importance of characters contributing to their diagnoses and identification. Here we ameliorate both historical shortfalls. First, our new genetic data allowed us to perform novel molecular phylogenetic analyses aimed at elucidating the evolutionary relationships of these lineages; secondly, with population level phenotypic data, from the first statistical sample collected for either species, and including adults of both sexes. We reaffirm the distinctiveness of both named taxa as valid species, amend their diagnoses to facilitate the recognition of both, distinguish them from congeners, and consider the biogeographic affinities of both lineages. Our contribution emphasizes the conservation significance of Sibuyan Island’s Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural Park, the diverse, idiosyncratic biogeographic histories of its variably-assembled, highly endemic reptile fauna, and the critical importance of multiple, repeated, survey–resurvey studies for understanding forest community species composition and the evolutionary history of Philippine biodiversity.

KEYWORDS: biodiversity, endemism, forest geckos, faunal region, fossoriality, limb reduction

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by Emerson Y. Sy, Sabine Schoppe, Mae Lowe L. Diesmos, Theresa Mundita S. Lim, and Arvin C. Diesmos

Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2020, DOI: 10.26757/pjsb2020b14003

Abstract (Primary Research Paper)

Date Posted (Final Published Version) :August 11, 2020

Abstract

The Philippine or Palawan Forest Turtle Siebenrockiella leytensis is the only endemic turtle known to occur in the Philippines. It was assessed as Critically Endangered in 2000 and has been considered as one of the world’s top 25 most endangered turtles since 2003. The species is accorded protection nationally by the Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act of 2001 and its international commercial trade is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). However, the publication of its rediscovery in 2004 triggered unrelenting poaching and trafficking for the pet trade nationally and internationally. With the aim of quantifying the extent of poaching and to provide insight on the trade dynamics, we analyzed seizure records from 2004–2018 and conducted physical and online market surveys in 2017–2018. Twenty-three (23) seizure incidents involving 4,723 Philippine Forest Turtles were recorded in the last 15 years. Based on an online survey, we estimated that an additional 1,200 Philippine Forest Turtles were smuggled and illegally sold in China in 2015. The majority of the 74 live individuals exported legally from the Philippines were likely sourced illegally from the wild and declared fraudulently as captive bred by exporters to obtain CITES permits. While habitat loss or degradation is a major threat, the illegal pet trade remains the most important factor threatening the survival of the Philippine Forest Turtles in the wild.

KEYWORDS: chelonian, CITES, pet trade, trafficking, wildlife laundering

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by Abner A. Bucol, Rainier I. Manalo, Angel C. Alcala, and Paulina S. Aspilla

Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2020, DOI: 10.26757/pjsb2020b14004

Abstract (Primary Research Paper)

Date Posted (Final Published Version): November 2, 2020

Abstract

Crocodilians have been assumed to influence aquatic primary productivity and fishery yield. However, strong empirical evidence to support such claims is lacking. The long-standing assumption first hypothesized by Fittkau (1970), is that local fisheries (secondary productivity) in areas inhabited by crocodilians would be expected to improve. We tested this hypothesis at two locations in the Philippines, inhabited by the Philippine Crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) in Paghungawan Marsh in Siargao Island Protected Landscape & Seascape (SIPLAS), Jaboy, Pilar, Surigao Del Norte, and the Indo-Pacific Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) in the Rio Tuba River, Bataraza, southern Palawan Island. Water chemistry parameters, with emphasis on nutrient (nitrate and phosphate) levels, were determined using using standard protocols. Catch-per-Unit Effort (CPUE) of gillnets in sites with crocodiles was compared with corresponding control sites without crocodiles. CPUE was higher in areas inhabited by crocodiles, but appeared not to be directly influenced by nutrient levels. Increased fish catches in areas inhabited by crocodiles might be attributed to several factors, such as reduced fishing pressure due to the presence of crocodiles which discouraged the local fishermen to fish intensively. Overall, while fish catch was higher in areas inhabited by crocodiles, it is too early to attribute this to the nutrient output from crocodiles due to several confounding factors.

KEYWORDS: estuarine, fish catch, freshwater, nutrient

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by Cameron D. Siler, Elyse S. Freitas, Jennifer A. Sheridan, Stephanie N. Maguire, Drew R. Davis, Jessa L. Watters, Kai Wang, Arvin C. Diesmos, and Rafe M. Brown

Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2020, DOI: 10.26757/pjsb2020b14005

Abstract (Primary Research Paper)

Date Posted (Final Published Version): November 16, 2020

Abstract

The diversity of Philippine amphibians and reptiles has increased over the last few decades, in part due to re-evaluation of species formerly believed to be widespread. Many of these investigations of widespread species have uncovered multiple closely related cryptic lineages comprising species complexes, each restricted to individual Pleistocene Aggregate Island Complexes (PAICs). One group in particular for which widespread cryptic diversity has been common is the clade of Philippine skinks of the genus Brachymeles. Recent phylogenetic studies of the formerly recognized widespread species Brachymeles bonitae have indicated that this species is actually a complex distributed across several major PAICs and smaller island groups in the central and northern Philippines, with numerous species that exhibit an array of digit loss and limb reduction patterns. Despite the recent revisions to the B. bonitae species complex, studies suggest that unique cryptic lineages still exist within this group. In this paper, we resurrect the species Brachymeles burksi Taylor 1917, for a lineage of non-pentadactyl, semi-fossorial skink from Mindoro and Marinduque islands. First described in 1917, B. burksi was synonymized with B. bonitae in 1956, and has rarely been reconsidered since. Evaluation of genetic and morphological data (qualitative traits, meristic counts, and mensural measurements), and comparison of recently-obtained specimens to Taylor’s original description support this species’ recognition, as does its insular distribution on isolated islands in the central portions of the archipelago. Morphologically, B. burksi is differentiated from other members of the genus based on a suite of unique phenotypic characteristics, including a small body size, digitless limbs, a high number of presacral vertebrae, the absence of auricular openings, and discrete (non-overlapping) meristic scale counts. The recognition of this central Philippine species further increases the diversity of non-pentadactyl members of the B. bonitae complex, and reinforces the biogeographic uniqueness of the Mindoro faunal region.

KEYWORDS: biodiversity, endemism, faunal region, fossoriality, limb reduction

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