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Abstract

This study provides a floral and faunal checklist of limestone forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines, a municipality that is a part of the Samar Island Natural Park. Nine (9) 20m x 20m plots were established to assess the tree species, while 18 line transects were placed within the plots for the assessment of the under-story species. Various methods were used to assess the vertebrate faunal species of the study site. A total of 30 floral species belonging to 22 genera and 18 families were recorded in the study site. Among these, Shorea negrosensis Foxw. and Wallaceodendron celebicum Koord. were noted to be classified as vulnerable based on Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order (DAO) 2017-11 while Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb. was also classified as vulnerable on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The faunal species recorded had a total of 112 terrestrial vertebrates composed of 5 amphibian, 8 reptile, 87 bird, and 12 mammals. Among the birds, Pithecophaga jefferyi, Phapitreron amethystinus, Ducula poliocephala, and Lo-riculus philippensis were identified to have a critically endangered conservation status while Nisaetus pinskeri, Buceros hydrocorax semigaleatus, and Penelopides affinis samarensis were listed as endangered based on the DAO 2019-09 and/or IUCN Red List. Among the other vertebrates, Platymantis rabori, Platymantis bayani, and Sus philippensis were categorized as vulnerable based on the DAO 2019-09 and/or IUCN Red List.
The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 15(1), x-xx, 31 December 2020
©2021 by National Science Museum, Thailand
http:doi.org/10.14456/thnhmj.2021.1
Original Article
Flora and Fauna Inventory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar,
Philippines
Ren Divien R. Obeña1,*, Paul John S. Tolentino1, Elaine Loreen C. Villanueva1, Desamarie Antonette P. Fernandez1,
Marjorie D. Delos Angeles1, and Inocencio E. Buot, Jr.1,2
1Institute of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna, Philippines
2Faculty of Management and Development Studies, University of the Philippines Open University, Laguna, Philippines
*Corresponding Author: rdobena@up.edu.ph
ABSTRACT
This study provides a oral and faunal checklist of limestone forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines, a
municipality that is a part of the Samar Island Natural Park. Nine (9) 20m x 20m plots were established to
assess the tree species, while 18 line transects were placed within the plots for the assessment of the under-
story species. Various methods were used to assess the vertebrate faunal species of the study site. A total of
30 oral species belonging to 22 genera and 18 families were recorded in the study site. Among these, Shorea
negrosensis Foxw. and Wallaceodendron celebicum Koord. were noted to be classied as vulnerable based on
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order (DAO) 2017-11 while Artocarpus
rubrovenius Warb. was also classied as vulnerable on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The faunal
species recorded had a total of 112 terrestrial vertebrates composed of 5 amphibian, 8 reptile, 87 bird, and 12
mammals. Among the birds, Pithecophaga jefferyi, Phapitreron amethystinus, Ducula poliocephala, and Lo-
riculus philippensis were identied to have a critically endangered conservation status while Nisaetus pinskeri,
Buceros hydrocorax semigaleatus, and Penelopides afnis samarensis were listed as endangered based on the
DAO 2019-09 and/or IUCN Red List. Among the other vertebrates, Platymantis rabori, Platymantis bayani,
and Sus philippensis were categorized as vulnerable based on the DAO 2019-09 and/or IUCN Red List.
Keywords: biodiversity, limestone forests, kaigangan, Samar Island Natural Park, Taft
INTRODUCTION
Samar Island is known to have rich and exemplary
biodiversity. It is one of the fteen biogeographic
zones in the Philippines and is recognized to contain
the country’s largest remaining unfragmented tract of
old growth lowland tropical rainforest. The island is
also home to various endangered and endemic species
(Holden, 2012; Madulid, 2000; PAWB-DENR,
1998). Due to its high ecological signicance, the
Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) was established to
ensure the protection, conservation, and sustainable
use of its natural resources by virtue of Presidential
Proclamation No. 442 on 13 August 2003. This
protected area has a total land area of 330,300 ha
with buffer zone of 124,500 ha, located at the core
of Samar Island, traversing the provinces of Northern
Samar, Eastern Samar, and Samar.
Another distinctive feature of Samar Island is the
presence of massif karst limestone in the area.
Incidentally, Samar Island holds the largest limestone
formation found in the Philippines and is recorded to
be the most prominent forest type in the SINP, locally
known as kaigangan (Niedbala et al., 2006; Resticar
et al., 2006; Audra 2000). Various studies of the
biological resources in SINP have been previously
conducted (Patindol 2016; Neidbala, 2006; Quimio,
2016; Meneses and Cootes, 2019). However, there is
dearth of information regarding the biological species
composition found in different forest types of the
SINP, particularly with the limestone forest.
This study aimed to provide a oral and faunal
species checklist found in the limestone forest
of Taft, Eastern Samar, one of the municipalities
covered by the SINP. The paper also determined the
distribution and conservation status of the identied
species in the study site. Karst formations support
unique species diversity and endemism incomparable
1-20, 30 June 2021
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2
to the species found in non-karst areas due to their
peculiar features such as historical biogeography,
rugged terrain formation, and climatic and edaphic
factors (Meneses et al., 2018; Clements et al., 2006;
Madulid, 2000). Hence, the monitoring and inventory
of ora and faunal resources in the limestone forest
of Taft, Eastern Samar may serve as a reference in
providing future strategic plans for the sustainable
use and conservation management of the biological
resources specic for this unique ecosystem.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study Area
The study was conducted at Taft, Eastern Samar.
It is a fourth-class municipality bounded by the
municipalities of Can-Avid in north, Paranas in
northwest, Sulat in south, and Kinabangan in
southwest (Figure 1). It has a total land area of 231.27
km2 and covers a total of 24 barangays (Sabulao and
Egirani, 2009).
Floral Diversity Assessment
The biodiversity assessment in Taft, Eastern Samar
was conducted from 5–7 October 2019. Two types
of methods were used to determine the oral species
in the study site. The quadrat or plot technique was
used to assess the trees (≥1 m), while line intercept
technique was used for understory plant species. A
total of nine 20m x 20m (Figure 1) vegetation plots
were established to assess the tree species, and 18 line
transects (2 line transects per plot) were established to
assess the understory species. The location selection
of sampling plots in the study site were based on the
bio-physical characteristics of the area, including
heterogeneity of biodiversity, topographic attributes
(elevation), and the presence of anthropogenic
disturbances in each sampling area. The collected
plants were labelled with eld tags before pressed
using newspaper. The samples were enclosed in
polyethylene plastic bags and soaked with 50%
denatured alcohol before it was dried at the Ecology
Laboratory and Plant Systematics Laboratory (PSL)
of Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS), University
of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). Each dried
plant sample was brought to PSL for mounting
and identication. Plant samples were identied
with the assistance of experts. Voucher specimens
were deposited at the Plant Biodiversity Division
Herbarium (PBDH) of UPLB.
Figure 1. Location of nine sampling plots in the municipality of Taft, Eastern Samar.
Obeña et al. Flora and Fauna Intentory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines 3
Faunal Diversity Assessment
Various methods for the survey of terrestrial vertebrate
diversity were adapted from the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Manual
on Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring System for
Terrestrial Ecosystems (Cruz et al., 2017) to record the
four major vertebrate groups (reptiles, birds, amphibians,
and mammals).
Herpetofauna were hand-captured, or collected using
forceps, snake hook/tongs and placed in separate
labeled resealable plastic bags for easier identication.
Alternating pit-fall traps with drift fences were used to
capture amphibians and small lizards. The traps were
checked every morning at around 0700 h and regularly
until 1800h to limit predation by other wildlife and
ensure retrieval of live captures. All individuals were
immediately released after species identication.
Birds were surveyed using simple line transect count.
Binoculars, eld guides by Kennedy et al. (2000)
and Arlott (2018), including online references by del
Hoyo et al. (2020a; 2020b) were used to aid in species
identication. A DSLR camera with telephoto lens was
used for photo-documentation and a digital audio-
recorder for recording bird calls. Twelve-meter mist
nets were set to record cryptic, less vocal and nocturnal
species of birds along possible yways and feeding trees.
Mist nets were nylon nets with 35mm sized mesh, set in
3-4 rungs with loose pockets to allow capture. Mist nets
were checked periodically for possible netted individuals
from 0530 h to 2000 h. Caught birds were retrieved and
placed individually in cloth bags to minimize stress and
injury. All individuals were immediately released after
species identication.
Volant mammals (bats) were also captured using the mist
nets for birds. Nets were left open until at least 2000 h
or until the next morning but were closed during rainy
weather conditions. Along each designated transect, 2-3
mist nets were set wherever possible. From 1930–2000
h, mist nets were checked every hour then checked
again at 0500 h the next day. Each captured animal was
carefully removed from the net and placed individually
in cloth bags to minimize stress and injury. Regular
checking of netted bats prevented them from being too
entangled and prevents the net from being chewed upon
and broken. This also warded off potential predators.
All individuals were immediately released after species
identication.
Small non-volant mammals, such as rats, were captured
using steel mesh cage traps. Thinly sliced coconut meat
fried until brown and coated generously with peanut
butter were used as bait. Rat traps were set around or
near the mist nets set-up for trapping bats and along the
designated transect, whenever possible. For trapping on
the ground surface, the traps were positioned 5 to 10 m
apart under root tangles, in front of burrow entrances,
along runways, and beside or on top of fallen logs.
Captures were retrieved early in the morning (ca. 0700 h)
and bait was replaced in the late afternoon (ca. 1700 h).
All individuals were immediately released after species
identication. Camera traps were set up to photograph
larger cryptic species. A digital camera with telephoto
lens was also used for photo-documentation.
Indicators of animal presence such as footprints, fecal
droppings, roosting and nesting sites, and other animal
physical disturbances were also used. Ethnobiological
data from local guides and people living near the study
site were likewise used to indicate the probable presence
specic wildlife in the survey area.
Endemicity and Conservation Status of Floral and
Faunal Species
The endemicity and identication of plant species
were veried using the International Plant Name Index
(IPNI) and Co’s Digital Flora (Pelser et al., 2011). The
conservation status of each plant species was determined
using the Updated National List of Threatened Philippine
Plants and Their Categories (DAO No. 2017-11) while
the Updated National List of Threatened Philippine
Fauna and Their Categories (DAO No. 2019-09)
was used for faunal species. Published literature,
monographs, and other checklists regarding biodiversity
in Taft were also reviewed in relation to occurrence and
endemicity of faunal species. The endemic status of all
species was veried by consulting available checklists
and available online resources. The conservation status
of oral and faunal species based on the International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of
Threatened Species (2020) were also assessed in this
paper. The differences in IUCN Red List with DAO
2017-011 and DAO 2019-09 conservation statuses
reect differences in the threats of certain species on
both spatial and taxonomic scales. For example, on a
spatial scale, Tropidolaemus subannulatus, a pit viper,
is classied as Least Concern by IUCN throughout
its range in Borneo and the Philippines (Auliya et al.,
2012). However, its conservation status in the DAO
2019-09 is OTS, equivalent to Near Threatened, because
it is often found in the local illegal pet trade network
(BCSP, 2020). On a taxonomic scale, Penelopides
afnis, the Mindanao hornbill, was assessed by IUCN
as Least Concern throughout its range in the Mindanao
The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 15(1), 30 June 2021
4
PAIC (Bird Life International, 2016). However, the
DAO 2019-09 categorizes it as Endangered because of
the restricted range and declining population trend of
one of its subspecies, Penelopides afnis basilanicus
(DENR-BCSP, 2020). In this and many other cases, the
assessors of the DAO 2019-09 adopted a conservative
approach to apply the conservation status of the most
threatened subspecies to the species as a whole (Gonzalez
et al., 2018). The reection of both global and local
conservation statuses is valuable in evaluating extinction
risks and conservation priorities on both levels.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Flora Composition in Taft, Eastern Samar
The oristic inventory conducted in Taft, Eastern Samar
recorded a total of 30 plant species, represented by 22
genera and 18 families. At least 15 plants were identied
at species level, 7 plants at genus level and 8 plants were
unidentied. The plants inventoried were composed of
4 species of pteridophytes, 1 species of gymnosperms
and 18 species of angiosperms. The families Araceae,
Arecaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Pandanaceae and Sapotaceae
are represented with 2 species each. Meanwhile,
the families of Lomariopsidaceae, Marattiaceae,
Cycadaceae, Gnetaceae, Asparagaceae, Zingiberaceae,
Fabaceae, Moraceae, Begoniaceae, Dipterocarpaceae,
Sapotaceae, Gesneriaceae and Rubiaceae have 1
plant species each represented. Among the identied
species, 5 plant species were noted to be endemic to
the Philippines. These were the species of Heterospathe
intermedia (Becc.) Fernando, Codiaeum macgregorii
Merr., Hancea wenzeliana (Slik) S.E.C.Sierra, Kulju
& Welzen, Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb., and Shorea
negrosensis Foxw.
An existing study of oral composition within the
boundary of Taft, Eastern Samar was previously
conducted by Quimio (2016). A total of 212 woody
species were recorded from ve-priority watershed
areas of SINP (Suribao watershed, Can-avid watershed,
Catubig watershed, Taft or Ulot watershed, and Basey
watershed). Only 74 woody species were listed in the
Taft or Ulot watershed. It was also observed that this
watershed has the highest frequency of individuals of
timber species with diameter at breast height (DBH)
of 10 cm and larger compared to the other watersheds.
Among all the plant species listed in all ve watersheds,
only three tree species were similarly recorded in this
study. These species were Gnetum gnemon L., Shorea
negrosensis Foxw., and Wallaceodendron celebicum
Koord. It was also interesting to note that the presence
of these species varied per watershed. The species
of Gnetum gnemon L. was found in the watersheds
of Taft, Can-Avid, Basey and Suribao. On the other
hand, the species of Shorea negrosensis Foxw., and
Wallaceodendron celebicum Koord. were found in the
Taft watershed and Catubig watershed, respectively.
The vascular plant composition conducted in Taft, Easten
Samar was different than the oristic species found in
the limestone forest of other areas in the Philippines,
such as in Mount Lantoy (Lillo et al., 2019), Mount
Canbantug (Replan and Malaki, 2017) and Mount
Tabunan (Cadiz and Buot, 2010). These areas were all
classied as a Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) located in
Cebu, a province located in the Central Visayas Region,
and these KBAs were described to have a terrain that is
widely covered by limestone vegetated areas. A total of
112 oral species were observed in the Mount Lantoy.
Among the native trees assessed in this site, it was
observed that W. celebicum was the only species similar
to the result of this study. The Mount Canbantug study
recorded at least 132, species, and was dominated by
the species of Vitex parviora, Pterocarpus indicus,
and plant species belonging to the family of Moraceae.
Lastly, the Mount Tabunan study recorded 288 species
and was most represented with the families of Moraceae,
Meliaceae, and Araceae. These results only highlighted
that there were different oristic composition in the
limestone forest found in these KBAs compared with
Taft, Eastern Samar.
Table 1. Floral composition of the limestone forest in Taft, Eastern Samar.
Obeña et al. Flora and Fauna Intentory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines ... 5
Table 1. Floral composition of the limestone forest in Taft, Eastern Samar (continued).
The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 15(1), 30 June 2021
6
Notable Flora Species
Among all the listed vascular plants in this study,
the species of Shorea negrosensis Foxw. and
Wallaceodendron celebicum Koord. were noted to have
vulnerable conservation status while the Artocarpus
rubrovenius Warb. and Saribus rotundifolius (Lam.)
Blume have other threatened species status based on
the DAO 2017-11. On the other hand, the conservation
status based on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
shows that the Shorea negrosensis Foxw. and Gnetum
gnemon L. are classied as least concerned species while
Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb. has vulnerable status.
Shorea negrosensis Foxw.
Shorea negrosensis is classied as least concern (LC)
based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
while vulnerable (VU) in DAO 2017-11. Moreover, S.
negrosensis is endemic to the Philippines. Its distribution
range includes the provinces of Luzon (Cagayan, Isabela,
Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Quezon, Camarines,
Albay, Sorsogon, and Polillo), Visayas region (Negros,
Cebu, Leyte, Biliran, and Samar), and in the Mindanao
Island (Zamboanga, Lanao, Cotabato, Bukidnon, Davao,
Surigao, Agusan, and Basilan) (Pelser et al., 2011).
In some provinces of the Philippines, S. negrosensis
are also used as fuelwood by the locals (Carandang
et al., 2013). This dipterocarp species is among the
Philippine hardwoods exported to its international
customers (Gambo-Lapitan et al., 2012).
Wallaceodendron celebicum Koord.
Wallaceodendon celebicum (Figure 2A) belongs to the
Family Fabaceae. It is classied as vulnerable (VU)
species in DAO 2017-11. W. celebicum was among the
20 tree species promoted for reforestation farming across
the Visayas and included as a preferred tree species
for smallholder forestry in Leyte (Peque and Hölscher,
2014; Mangaoang and Pasa, 2003). This species was
known to proliferate in the areas with elevation ranging
from 0-850 masl. W. celebicum is dispersed across the
different provinces of Benguet, Cagayan, Isabela,
Aurora, Quezon, Camarines, Burias, Masbate, Negros,
and Cebu (Pelser et al., 2011).
Figure 2. Notable oral species and endemic species in Taft, Eastern Samar. (A) Wallaceodendron celebicum
Koord. and (B) Hancea wenzeliana (Slik) S.E.C.Sierra, Kulju & Welzen.
Fauna Composition in Taft, Eastern Samar
A total of 112 terrestrial vertebrates composed of 5
amphibian, 8 reptile, 87 bird, and 12 mammal species
were recorded during the eldwork (Table 2) with an
overall endemism of 76 (67.86%). All ve (100%)
species of amphibians recorded were endemic to the
Philippines, 4 (80%) of which were Mindanao Pleistocene
Aggregate Island Complex (PAIC) endemics. Of the 8
reptiles, 7 (87.50%) were endemic to the country, 5 of
which (62.50%) were endemic to the greater Mindanao
PAIC. Of the 87 birds, 58 (66.67%) were endemic to
the country, 19 of which (21.84%) were endemic to
the greater Mindanao PAIC. Six (50%) of the mammal
species were endemic to the country, 2 (16.67%) were
endemic to the greater Mindanao faunal region. Available
published articles on the faunal diversity in Taft were
focused on reptiles (Koch et al., 2010; Siler and Brown,
2010; Siler et al., 2010, 2011, 2012; Welton et al., 2010,
2014) and amphibians (Siler et al., 2009). Most of the
fauna observed during the eldwork represented new
locality records for the municipality.
Four (4) out of 5 amphibian species recorded in
the study site fell under the genus Platymantis of
Family Ceratobatrachidae, while Family Ranidae was
represented by a single species Pulchrana grandocula,
all of which fell under Order Anura. It can be noted that
most of the forest frogs (Platymantis spp.) recorded are
highly terrestrial. Rabor’s horned tree frog (Platymantis
rabori) and Walter’s limestone frog (Platymantis bayani)
were both listed as Vulnerable (VU) in the Updated
Obeña et al. Flora and Fauna Intentory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines 7
National List of Threatened Philippine Fauna and
Their Categories (DENR-DAO 2019-09; Gonzalez et
al., 2018).
Eight (8) reptilian species recorded in the study site
belonged to 4 families all under Order Squamata. Family
Scincidae was the most represented with 4 species.
The remaining 3 families Varanidae, Gekkonidae, and
Viperidae were represented by 1 species each. Varanus
samarensis and Tropidolaemus subannulatus were
categorized as Other Threatened Species (OTS) in the
DENR-DAO 2019-09, while the remaining species were
not yet assessed in the IUCN Red List, which means
that further research is needed to conserve and protect
these valuable animals.
The 87 bird species recorded in the study site belonged
to 39 families under 12 orders. The most represented
order was Passeriformes with 44 species belonging to 24
families. The following species are listed on the DENR-
DAO 2019-09: Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi),
amethyst brown-dove (Phapitreron amethystinus),
pink-bellied imperial pigeon (Ducula poliocephala),
and Philippine hanging parrot (Loriculus philippensis)
were categorized as Critically Endangered (CR); the
southern rufous hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax ssp.
semigaleatus), Samar hornbill (Penelopides afnis
ssp. samarensis), and Pinsker's hawk-eagle (Nisaetus
pinskeri) were categorized as Endangered (EN); Steere’s
pitta (Pitta steerii ssp. coelestis), little slaty ycatcher
(Ficedula basilanica), northern silvery-kingsher (Ceyx
umenicola), Philippine spinetailed swift (Mearnsia
picina), Philippine green-pigeon (Treron axillaris), and
Mindanao bleeding-heart dove (Gallicolumba crinigera)
were categorized as Vulnerable (VU); lastly, the yellow-
breasted tailorbird (Orthotomus samarensis), short-
crested monarch (Hypothymis helenae), gray-throated
sunbird (Anthreptes griseigularis), and Visayan pygmy-
babbler (Dasycrotapha pygmaea) were categorized as
Other Threatened Species.
A total of 5 volant mammal species were recorded in the
study site all belonging to Family Pteropodidae under
Order Chiroptera. All volant mammals were listed in the
IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC). On the other hand,
7 non-volant mammal species belonging to 5 families
under 5 orders were recorded. The Philippine warty
pig (Sus philippensis) was categorized as Vulnerable
(VU) for both IUCN Red List and DENR-DAO 2019-
09. Moreover, the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)
was considered Near Threatened (NT) under the IUCN
Red List and categorized as Other Threatened Species
(OTS) in the DENR-DAO 2019-09. The Oriental house
rat (Rattus tanezumi) is an invasive alien species that
is considered an agricultural pest and poses a threat to
other animals that are native to the limestone forest.
An existing study of faunal composition within the
boundary of Taft, Eastern Samar was previously
conducted by Patindol (2016). A total of 182 terrestrial
vertebrates were recorded from ve priority watersheds
of SINP, same as the locations surveyed by Quimio
(2016) for oral composition. One hundred nine (109)
animals composed of 66 bird, 16 mammal, 13 reptile, and
14 amphibian species were recorded in Taft watershed
from the previous study. It can also be noted that the
Taft watershed had the highest species richness for
amphibians compared to the other watersheds surveyed.
Among all the animal species listed in all ve watersheds
by Patindol (2016), 51 records were similar within this
study (Table 2). Moreover, the presence of these 51
species varied per watershed. Platymantis rabori was
recorded in Taft for both this study and the previous
survey by Patindol (2016). It is also worth noting that
the species was recorded only in Taft watershed from
the previous study. Otosaurus cumingi was recorded in
this study, whereas it was listed only in the watersheds
of Basey and Catubig from Patindol’s survey in 2016.
The Dicrurus hottentottus record from the previous
survey was possibly Dicrurus striatus samarensis based
on biogeographic distribution (del Hoyo et al., 2020a).
The remaining species were recorded in other watersheds
aside from Taft.
Notable Fauna Species
Platymantis bayani Siler, Alcala, Diesmos, and Brown,
2009
Walter’s limestone frog is a species of forest frog rst
recorded by Siler et al. (2009) on the karst formations
of Taft Forest Reserve, Eastern Samar at 140-meter
elevation. This is the only Platymantis species in the
Mindanao faunal region with a preference of a terrestrial,
limestone microhabitat. No individuals were caught
during the assessment, but further herpetological surveys
might lead to successful observation of the species.
Platymantis bayani was categorized as Data Decient
(DD) in the IUCN Red List and Vulnerable under the
DENR DAO 2019-09.
Cyrtodactylus sumuroi Welton, Siler, Linkem,
Diesmos, and Brown, 2010a
This Samar Island endemic gekkonid (Figure 3A) is
an evolutionary lineage of the C. agusanensis complex
(Siler et al., 2010; Welton et al., 2010). The rst specimen
records of this species were from the forests of Eastern
Samar, Taft, Barangay San Rafael (Welton et al., 2010),
which supports their presence in the limestone forests
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PROOFS
8
Table 2. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone in Taft, Eastern Samar.
Obeña et al. Flora and Fauna Intentory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines
PROOFS
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Table 2. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone in Taft, Eastern Samar (continued).
The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 15(1), 30 June 2021
PROOFS
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Table 2. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone in Taft, Eastern Samar (continued).
Obeña et al. Flora and Fauna Intentory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines
PROOFS
11
Table 2. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone in Taft, Eastern Samar (continued).
The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 15(1), 30 June 2021
PROOFS
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Table 2. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone in Taft, Eastern Samar (continued).
Obeña et al. Flora and Fauna Intentory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines
PROOFS
13
Table 2. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone in Taft, Eastern Samar (continued).
The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 15(1), 30 June 2021
14
Table 2. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone in Taft, Eastern Samar (continued).
of the municipality. Cyrtodactylus sumuroi had not yet
been assessed in the IUCN Red List and DENR DAO
2019-09.
Pithecophaga jefferyi Ogilvie-Grant, 1896
The Philippine eagle, also known as the National Bird
of the Philippines, is endemic to the archipelago where
it is known from the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte,
and Mindanao (Bueser et al., 2003). It is one of the
most endangered species on the planet (Kennedy et al.,
2000). Estimates suggest that there were six pairs in
Samar Island (BirdLife International 2020). Previous
sightings were available in Calbiga and Taft Forest
Wildlife (Philippine Eagle) Sanctuary in Eastern
Samar (DENR, 2014; Taylor, 2015). It is categorized
as Critically Endangered (CR) in both the IUCN Red
List and DENR DAO 2019-09.
Phapitreron amethystinus Bonaparte, 1857
The amethyst brown-dove (Figure 3B) is endemic to the
Philippines. It can be differentiated from other brown-
dove species by having a larger bill, less conspicuous
white ‘ear’, violet upper back, and cinnamon undertail
coverts (Kennedy et al., 2000). An individual was
recorded perched from a branch during the transect
survey. It was categorized as Least Concern (LC) in
the IUCN Red List but listed as Critically Endangered
(CR) in the DENR DAO 2019-09.
Pitta steeri coelestis Parkes, 1971
Steere’s Pitta or Azure-breasted Pitta (Figure 3C) is
endemic to the Mindanao faunal region where it is
often associated with limestone forests (Kennedy et
al., 2000). The race coelestis is found in Samar, Leyte,
and Bohol (Erritzoe, 2020). An individual was caught
with a mist net but immediately released after species
identication. Due to the species’ small, fragmented
population, and the continuous loss of their habitat, it
was listed as Vulnerable for both the IUCN Red List
and DENR DAO 2019-09.
Ptenochirus minor Yoshiyuki, 1979
The lesser musky fruit bat (Figure 3D) is endemic to the
Mindanao Faunal Region (Heaney et al., 1998). They
are dark bats with shortish, sturdy snouts. Individuals
were caught during the eld survey using mist nets.
This species can easily be mistaken for Ptenochirus
jagori but can be distinguished by the differences in
forearm lengths 60-78mm and 76-90mm, respectively
(Ingle and Heaney, 1992). It was categorized as Least
Concern (LC) in the IUCN Red List.
Sus philippensis Nehring, 1886
The Philippine warty pig is endemic to the Philippines.
An abandoned wallowing site was observed along the
trail, which indicated the presence of the species in
the limestone forests of Taft. This species is heavily
hunted for its meat (Heaney et al., 1998) and is currently
categorized as Vulnerable for both IUCN Red List and
DENR DAO 2019-09.
Conservation Concerns
Major anthropogenic threats to the biodiversity of
karst landscapes in Southeast Asia include limestone
quarrying and mining. The limestone quarrying rate in
Obeña et al. Flora and Fauna Intentory of Limestone Forests in Taft, Eastern Samar, Philippines 15
Figure 3. Some of the notable animal species found in the study site of San Rafael, Taft, Eastern Samar: A)
Cyrtodactylus sumuroi, B) Phapitreron amethystinus, C) Pitta steerii ssp. coelestis, and D) Ptenochirus minor.
Photographs by P.J. Tolentino.
this region is greater compared to other larger tropical
regions. Moreover, the Southeast Asia has a higher
mean annual increase in limestone quarrying rates
from 1999-2003 (Clements et al., 2006). This activity
can be negatively consequential to the endemic species
inhabiting this specic ecosystem, such as in the case
of Platymantis bayani which is recorded to only occur
in Taft, Eastern Samar and has limestone rock as its
preferred microhabitat. According to the DENR-BMB
(2020), the Platymantis bayani was primarily threatened
by this extractive activity.
Prominent forest cover loss had been experienced by
Samar Island in the previous years. This was attributed
to the extensive logging and timber cutting, rattan
extraction, and kaingin (clearing of land through slash-
and-burn agriculture) in the province (Bugayong et al.,
2016). In 1987 and 1988, the province became the major
log producer in the Eastern Visayas Region (Sabulao
and Egirani, 2009). An estimated 86% decrease rate
in forest cover was observed during the 1950s, and
around 33% during mid-1980s (Hunnam et al., 2004).
SINP also ranked second among the terrestrial protected
areas in the Philippines in terms of having the largest
forest cover loss (12,340 ha) from 2001–2012 (Apan
et al., 2017). Activities such as wood harvesting for
charcoal, collection of endemic plants for medicinal and
ornamental purposes, and illegal hunting and capturing
of wild animals also exacerbated the degradation of
the biodiversity in the karst landscape (Lillo et al.,
2019; Cadiz and Buot, 2010; Clements, 2006; Gillieson,
2005). If these practices continue, their adverse effects
on biodiversity will be inevitable. For instance, despite
being classied as least concern (LC) by the IUCN
Red List, the population trend of Shorea negrosensis
species has been in a decreasing trend due to illegal
logging and timber extraction activities in the country
(EDC, 2020).
Forest fragmentation inhibits the movement of species
and increases their exposure to humans. Aside from
habitat loss, the population of Pithecophaga jefferyi
has been declining due to illegal hunting and poaching
(Salvador and Ibanez, 2006). Pithecophaga jefferyi was
The Thailand Natural History Museum Journal 15(1), 30 June 2021
16
discovered in Samar Island during 1986 and current
studies have shown that this species is still present in
the municipalities of Taft and Calbiga (Taylor et al.,
2015). However, continuous degradation of the forest
and occurrence of illegal hunting and poaching of this
species would result in its extinction. Similarly, invasive
alien species pose additional threats to the biodiversity
of limestone forest in Taft, such as in the case of the
invasive alien species Rattus tanezumi, which could
outcompete the native rodent species, Rattus everetti.
This may result in widespread crop damage in karst
landscapes if no interventions are made to control or
monitor the population of invasive alien species.
Several laws and regulations were implemented leading
to the indirect protection of karst landscapes in Taft,
Eastern Samar. One regulation is the Logging Moratorium
Order imposed by the late President Corazon Aquino in
1989 that ceased the existing logging operations in the
province (Hunnam et al., 2004). This was created in
response to the intensive logging in Samar Island during
1950s-1980s which resulted in landslides and ashoods
causing the loss of lives and massive destruction of
properties in the affected areas. After President Cory
Aquino’s administration, the leadership of succeeding
Philippine presidents also recognized the importance of
protecting the forests of Samar. Thus, the Proclamation
no. 774, s. 1996 was signed by President Fidel V. Ramos
declaring the rainforest of the provinces of Samar as a
forest reserve. Eventually, the Proclamation no. 442,
s. 2003 was enacted by President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo that classied SINP as a Protected Area under
the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS)
Law. In 1999, President Joseph Estrada also designated a
forest area in Taft, Eastern Samar as a wildlife sanctuary
for the Philippine Eagle under the Proclamation No.
155, s. 1999. Aside from being protected by the NIPAS
Law, SINP was indirectly protected by the Mining Act
of 1995, which prohibits the application of mining near
the old growth forest. Since the SINP holds the largest
intact old growth forest in the Philippines, quarrying
and mining activities in this area is limited.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
This study recorded a total of 30 ora species and 112
fauna species in Taft, Eastern Samar. Among all the listed
vascular plants, the species of Artocarpus rubrovenius
Warb., Saribus rotundifolius (Lam.) Blume, Shorea
negrosensis Foxw. and Wallaceodendron celebicum
Koord. were noted to have conservation status based
on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and DAO
2017-11. Among the birds, Pithecophaga jefferyi,
Phapitreron amethystinus, Ducula poliocephala, and
Loriculus philippensis were identied to have a critically
endangered conservation status while Nisaetus pinskeri,
Buceros hydrocorax semigaleatus, and Penelopides
afnis samarensis were listed as endangered based on
the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Administrative Order (DAO) 2019-09 and/or IUCN
Red List. Among the other vertebrates, Platymantis
rabori, Platymantis bayani, and Sus philippensis were
categorized as vulnerable based on the DAO 2019-09
and/or IUCN Red List.
The karst landscape of Taft, Eastern Samar has a
unique biodiversity composition. The continuous
degradation of the forest area in Samar imposed
threats to its natural resources, including the ora and
fauna of limestone forest that are known to be highly
vulnerable to disturbances. Without the proper and strict
implementation of the laws, the prolonged exposure
of the species residing in the limestone forest to the
anthropogenic and natural disturbances may result in
the decline of their population or eventually lead to
their extinction.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This research was part of the Assessment and Conservation
of Forest over Limestone Ecosystem Biodiversity in
Selected Municipalities of Samar Island Philippines
(CONserve-KAIGANGAN) Program administered by
the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and
Samar State University (SSU). The authors would like to
acknowledge the Department of Science and Technology
(DOST) and Philippine Council for Agriculture and
Aquatic Resources Research Development (PCAARRD)
through Grants-in-Aid (AID) Program for serving as a
funding agency throughout the implementation of the
program; the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) Region 8 and the SINP Protected
Area Management Board (PAMB) for the issuance of
Gratuitous Permit (DENR GP No. 2019-16); the staff
of Samar Island Natural Park, barangay ofcials of San
Rafael, Taft, and the Basaranan nga Organisasyon han
San Isidro Paranas (BOSIS) for providing assistance
during eldwork; the National Mapping and Resource
Information Authority for providing data sets used in
maps; and the DOST Science Education Institute (SEI)
through Career Incentive Program (CIP) for giving
the third author an opportunity to participate in the
CONserve-KAIGANGAN Program.
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Accepted: 11 December 2020
Published: 26 April 2021
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