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Abstract

This study provides a checklist of the vascular flora and terrestrial vertebrate fauna in forests over limestone in Paranas, Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), Philippines, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site nominee. Nine 20x20m plots and 18 line transects were established for the floral inventory. The faunal assessment was conducted in transects laid in three sites within Paranas. Secondary data was collected from published articles regarding biodiversity in Samar Island Natural Park (SINP). The list shows 99 plant species representing 63 genera and 44 families. Eighteen species were identified as non-endemic and 38 species were Philippine endemics. New island records of Tectaria calcarea (C. Presl) Copel., Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb. and Hancea wenzeliana (Slik) S.E.C.Sierra, Kulju & Welzen were also reported. Eleven plants are listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List and/or DENR DAO 2017-11. Also, 106 vertebrates were recorded in a faunal inventory, including 4 amphibians, 9 reptiles, 84 avifauna, and 9 mammal species, with overall endemism of 71 (67%). A new locality record of Platymantis bayani was noted in Paranas. Twenty-one vertebrate species were listed as threatened in the IUCN Red List and/or DENR DAO 2019-09. This biodiversity information strengthens the nomination of SINP as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, as this supports SINP's outstanding universal value. The checklist is also essential for the formulation of policies and management strategies for the conservation and protection of kaigangan (forest over limestone).
Tropical Natural History 21(1): 119145, April 2021
©2021 by Chulalongkorn University
Biodiversity in Forests over Limestone in Paranas,
Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), A UNESCO
World Natural Heritage Site Nominee
ELAINE LOREEN C. VILLANUEVA1*, DESAMARIE ANTONETTE P.
FERNANDEZ1, MARJORIE D. DELOS ANGELES1,2*, PAUL JOHN S. TOLENTINO1,
REN DIVIEN R. OBEÑA1 AND INOCENCIO E. BUOT, JR.1,3
1Institute of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna, PHILIPPINES
2Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, CHINA
3Faculty of Management and Development Studies, University of the Philippines Open University,
Laguna, PHILIPPINES
*Corresponding authors. Elaine Loreen C. Villanueva (ecvillanueva4@up.edu.ph) and
Marjorie D. Delos Angeles (mddelosangeles1@up.edu.ph)
Received: 4 June 2020; Accepted: 10 February 2021
ABSTRACT. This study provides a checklist of the vascular flora and terrestrial vertebrate fauna in forests over
limestone in Paranas, Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), Philippines, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site
nominee. Nine 20x20m plots and 18 line transects were established for the floral inventory. The faunal assessment
was conducted in transects laid in three sites within Paranas. Secondary data was collected from published articles
regarding biodiversity in Samar Island Natural Park (SINP). The list shows 99 plant species representing 63 genera
and 44 families. Eighteen species were identified as non-endemic and 38 species were Philippine endemics. New
island records of Tectaria calcarea (C. Presl) Copel., Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb. and Hancea wenzeliana (Slik)
S.E.C.Sierra, Kulju & Welzen were also reported. Eleven plants are listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List
and/or DENR DAO 2017-11. Also, 106 vertebrates were recorded in a faunal inventory, including 4 amphibians, 9
reptiles, 84 avifauna, and 9 mammal species, with overall endemism of 71 (67%). A new locality record of
Platymantis bayani was noted in Paranas. Twenty-one vertebrate species were listed as threatened in the IUCN
Red List and/or DENR DAO 2019-09. This biodiversity information strengthens the nomination of SINP as a
UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, as this supports SINP’s outstanding universal value. The checklist is also
essential for the formulation of policies and management strategies for the conservation and protection of
kaigangan (forest over limestone).
KEY WORDS: ecotourism, endemic species, kaigangan, Paranas, Philippines, protected areas, threatened
species, UNESCO World Natural Heritage
INTRODUCTION
Samar Island houses an extensive area of
karsts (Restificar, 2006). Some of the karst
landscapes are part of the Samar Island
Natural Park (SINP), a forest reserve on the
third-largest island of the Philippines. It was
declared as a protected area under
Proclamation No. 442. 2003, pursuant to the
National Integrated Protected Areas System
(NIPAS) Act of 1992 (Republic Act No.
7586). It has a total land area of 330,300
hectares plus a buffer zone of 124,500
hectares. A forest over limestone is a forest
formation type thriving on limestone karsts,
which are outcrops mainly composed of
calcium carbonate. Limestone karsts cover
about 10% of the total land area of the
Philippines and are notable for having high
species endemism due to their unique flora
and fauna (Fernando et al., 2008).
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
120
Recent biological assessments conducted
in SINP by scientists have proven the
richness of the biodiversity of the area.
Floral (Quimio, 2016) and faunal (Patindol,
2016) assessments were conducted in five
watersheds of SINP, where 212 tree species
and 182 terrestrial vertebrate species were
documented. Most of the tree individuals
assessed were dipterocarps (Family Diptero-
carpaceae). However, continuous forest
fragmentation and destructive anthropogenic
activities have led to a decline in biodiversity.
Defining conservation priorities is of high
importance since it safeguards biodiversity
and ultimately halts biodiversity loss (Brooks
et al., 2006).
The Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA)
approach was initiated by the Philippine
government to aid the agency and
stakeholders prioritize conservation action
and devise geographically specific strategies
that protect the individual species and
safeguard representative habitats (Edgar et
al. 2008). Samar Island, as a Key
Biodiversity Area, has its share of notable
biodiversity. Early records in Merrill’s
Enumeration of the Philippine Flowering
Plants (1923-1926) noted 406 endemic
species, represented by 200 genera and 65
families in Samar Island (Madulid, 2000).
Moreover, additional species of palms
(Adorador and Fernando, 2017; 2019;
Adorador et al., 2020), orchids (Meneses et
al., 2018; Meneses and Cootes, 2019),
Pyrostria (Alejandro et al., 2013), and
Gomphandra (Schori and Utteridge, 2012)
were recently documented. A total of 30
mammal (Heaney et al, 2010), 172 bird
(eBird, 2021), 24 amphibian (Diesmos et al.,
2015; Diesmos et al., 2020), and 31 snake
(Leviton et al., 2018; Weinell et al., 2020)
species from extensive checklists and recent
faunal discoveries were recorded from
Samar. Patindol (2016) assessed terrestrial
vertebrates from the municipalities of Taft,
Can-avid, and Suribao in Eastern Samar,
Basey in Samar, and Catubig in Northern
Samar and documented 182 species
including 18 amphibian, 23 reptile, 121 bird,
and 20 mammal species.
To further enhance the protection of
SINP, the area was nominated as a
UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. This
is a huge opportunity and challenge for the
stakeholders of SINP, as the UNESCO
World Heritage Convention seeks the
conservation of landscapes that possess
outstanding universal value, which means
that its significance should go beyond
national boundaries and benefit all of
humanity (Williams 2011).
Southeast Asia is composed of about
10% karst in terms of land area (Day and
Urich, 2000). In this region, there are eight
UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites
situated in terrestrial karst formations:
Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia),
Lorentz National Park (Indonesia), Dong
Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex
(Thailand), Thungyai-Hua Kha Khaeng
Wildlife Sanctuaries (Thailand), Ha Long
Bay (Vietnam), Phong Nha-Ke Bang
National Park (Vietnam), Trang An
Landscape Complex (Vietnam), and Puerto
Princesa Subterranean River National Park
(Philippines) (Clements, 2006; Day and
Urich, 2010; Day, 2011; UNESCO, 2020).
These natural heritage sites feature their rich
and unique biodiversity as their outstanding
universal values, including their scenic karst
landforms. In the same way, SINP can
contend to be included in this natural
heritage list if it has enough data on its
unique biodiversity, as well as on its
physical characteristics such as geological
features and processes. Information on
biodiversity is crucial for the IUCN, the
advisory body of the UNESCO World
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
121
Heritage Convention (WHC), to ensure the
coverage and conservation of the World
Heritage Sites (Williams, 2011).
The Assessment and Conservation of
Forest over Limestone Ecosystem
Biodiversity in Selected Municipalities of
Samar Island Philippines (CONserve-
KAIGANGAN) is a three-year research
program of UPLB and Samar State
University (SSU) which aims to assess and
conserve the biodiversity in the forest over
limestone ecosystems towards sustainable
management of Samar Island, Philippines.
One of the main goals of this program is to
conduct floral and faunal assessments in two
municipalities within SINP: Paranas and
Taft. As a source of valuable biodiversity
information, this study produced a checklist
of Paranas flora and fauna, along with other
existing baseline information about SINP
that can support its worth as a natural
treasure that transcends national boundaries.
Moreover, to qualify as a world natural
heritage site, SINP should also have
concrete policies and sustainable management
strategies for its protection and conservation
(UNESCO, 1972; Williams, 2011). Its
administration should be well-represented
by various stakeholders and site managers
from different sectors and genders, as
UNESCO promotes a human-rights based
approach in managing world heritage
properties (UNESCO World Heritage
Committee, 2019). It should include local
and national government units, peoples’
organizations (POs), academic institutions,
non-government organizations (NGOs), and
more importantly, the local communities of
the national park. Aside from providing
information on biodiversity, the outputs of
this checklist can also aid the formulation of
science-based policies and regulations for
the management of SINP. Through this list,
localized efforts can also be organized and
targeted for the conservation of the
threatened species and sustainable use of the
economically important species.
SINP has already begun this action
through some of its ecotourism initiatives.
In the SINP Central Headquarters in Brgy.
Tenani, Paranas, the office has an eco-lodge
managed by the Protected Areas
Superintendent (PASu). The lodge helps
monitor the influx of visitors as it
accommodates interested tourists and
explorers. Moreover, the Paranas Eco-trail
and Birding Site was launched last August
2019 by the Department of Tourism (DOT),
DENR, local government units (LGUs), and
POs (Amazona, 2019). Managed by the
Tenani Association for Women and
Development (TAWAD), the community-
based ecotourism activity serves as a source
of livelihood for the residents of Paranas
while promoting the biodiversity of Samar
kaigangan. This program is also assisted by
Tour Guides and Boat Operators for River
Protection and Environmental Development
Organization (TORPEDO), another PO
composed of boatmen and river guides.
To illustrate the outstanding universal
value of SINP as a nominee of UNESCO
World Natural Heritage status, on-site
evidence of the biodiversity of SINP is
needed. Thus, the baseline data from this
study is highly significant for this pursuit as
it globally highlights the protection and
conservation of the biodiversity and
landscapes of SINP. This study aims to
provide new records and a checklist of the
vascular plants and terrestrial vertebrate
animals of the forest over limestone eco-
systems in Paranas, a municipality situated
in SINP, while highlighting the conservation
concerns of its threatened species. This
study also explained the importance of this
biological assessment for the nomination of
SINP for the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
122
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study area
The study was conducted in Samar
Island Natural Park (SINP), a forest reserve
and a protected area in Samar Island,
Philippines (Figure 1). SINP covers 37
municipalities and one city, including the
municipality of Paranas, Samar. Samar is
part of the Mindanao Pleistocene Aggregate
Island Complex (PAIC), which also
includes the islands of Leyte, Bohol, and
Mindanao (Ong et al., 2002). Samar Island
exhibits affinities with these islands in terms
of its fauna, thus grouped as a single PAIC
(Heaney, 1986; 1993; Vallejo, 2011).
Paranas was chosen as the study site in
SINP. It is a second-class municipality in
the province of Samar with a human
population of 30,557 (Philippine Statistics
Authority, 2019).
Establishment of the sampling sites for
floral and faunal inventory
The fieldwork for the inventory was
conducted from October 1-5, 2019. The
sampling sites were in the forest over
limestone (locally known in Samar Island as
kaigangan) ecosystems in Paranas, Samar.
Plots established were based on the
biophysical characteristics of the area such
as plant diversity heterogeneity, topographic
attributes, and the presence of anthropogenic
disturbances in the area. The quadrat or plot
technique was used to assess the trees (≤1
m), while the line intercept technique was
used for understory plant species. Nine
20x20 meter plots were established in
Paranas (Fig. 1). Trees within each plot
were noted and identified. For the
understory species, two line transects per
plot (a total of 18 transects) were laid within
the 20x20 meter plots. Each transect had a
length of five meters with one-meter
intervals. Voucher specimens were collected
from the sampled plants in the field and
were processed deposited at the Plant
Biodiversity Division Herbarium (PBDH) of
the University of the Philippines Los Baños
(UPLB), Laguna for proper identification
and documentation. Fern Flora of the
Philippines (Vol 1,2, and 3) were used in
identifying fern species. These were
compared with the collections of PBDH and
from available online resources such as
“Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines”
(Pelser et al. 2011) including a recent
botanical assessment in SINP (Quimio,
2016). Furthermore, experts from the
Philippine National Museum were consulted
to identify the unknown plant specimens.
For the assessment of animal diversity,
fieldwork for the vertebrate fauna inventory
was conducted at three sites: a transect was
laid in Barangay (Brgy.) San Isidro,
Paranas, while the other two were in Brgy.
Tenani, Paranas. Various trapping methods
were employed for the capture of animals
following the DENR Manual on
Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring
System for Terrestrial Ecosystems (Cruz et
al., 2017). All four major land vertebrate
groups (reptiles, amphibians, birds, and
mammals) were covered in this inventory.
Significant features of the specimens were
noted, and they were photographed to aid in
their identification. Mist nets were
strategically set to capture bats from around
1700-0500 h, for a total of 9 net-nights in 5
days. Bird observations were made
whenever possible during the day while
walking through the established transects to
set up cage traps and look for reptiles.
Purposive sampling was employed to
capture and observe reptiles and amphibians
from 0700h to 0900h, 1100h to 1300h, and
1900h to 2100h, for an average observation
of 5-6 hours per day for 5 days. Lastly, a
total of 62 trap-nights were set using cage
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
123
traps baited with roasted coconut covered in
peanut butter to capture small non-volant
mammals.
Several mist nets and rat traps were set
near the SINP Headquarters at about 190
masl on the current ecotourism trail marked
as the starting point of one of the established
faunal transects. Anthropogenic disturbances
were observed such as the presence of a
plant nursery, with a few occurring coconut
trees and rattan on the lower portion of the
trail. Other traps were set on strategic
locations at higher elevations where there
were fewer anthropogenic disturbances,
although traces of past logging were
observed at the end of the transect at about
385 masl. Another faunal transect was
established at 160-350 masl on an older
ecotourism trail which showed less
anthropogenic disturbances, but landslides
were observed near the end of the transect.
A third faunal transect was established in
Barangay San Isidro, Paranas, Samar at 210-
246 masl where a small area cleared for
planting agricultural crops was observed at
232 masl. Availability of water was scarce
for all the transects surveyed. Several
sinkholes were also present where some
animals such as bats and rats were observed.
Secondary data collection
Published literature, monographs, and
other checklists regarding biodiversity in
Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) were also
reviewed in relation to species occurrence
and endemicity for both flora and fauna.
The endemic status of each species was
verified by consulting available checklists,
related publications, and online resources.
FIGURE 1. Map of sampling plots in Paranas, Samar Island Natural Park (SINP), Philippines. Established
plots are marked with black circles.
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
124
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Floral diversity
Table 1 shows the list of plants inventoried
in Paranas, Samar based on field collections
and published literature. Ninety-three (99)
plant species representing 63 genera and 44
families were documented. Among these
species, 84 were identified at least up to the
family level, composed of 72 angiosperm,
eleven pteridophyte, and one lycophyte
species. The plant families with the most
species represented were Arecaceae (11 spp.),
Euphorbiaceae (5 spp.), Diperocarpaceae (5
spp.), Tectariaceae (4 spp.) Myristicaceae (4
spp.), Araceae (4 spp.), and Sapotaceae (3
spp.), Rubiaceae (3 spp.). Several families
were represented by two species, such as
Annonaceae, Clusiaceae, Moraceae, Thyme-
lacaceae, Sapindaceae, Apocynaceae, Acan-
thaceae, and Stemonuraceae. Nine genera
were noted to have more than one species
represented: Calamus, Pinanga, Horsefieldia,
Alocasia, Hopea, Garcinia, Kibatalia,
Gomphandra, and Palaquium. Thirty-eight
species were identified as Philippine
endemics, while 18 are native but non-
endemic species; 15 could not be identified
to species level (Table 1). The list also
shows the first record in Paranas, Samar
Island of Tectaria calcarea (C. Presl) Copel
(Fig. 2.A)., Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb.
(Fig. 2.B) and Hancea wenzeliana (Slik)
S.E.C.Sierra, Kulju & Welzen (Fig. 2.C). T.
calcarea (C. Presl) Copel is reported to be
in the islands of Polillo, Bohol, and Leyte
(Copeland EB, 1960; Pelser et al., 2011-
onwards). A. rubrovenius has a known
distribution throughout Luzon, while H.
wenzeliana is known to be distributed in
Mindanao, Philippines (Pelser et al., 2011-
onwards).
Compared with other studies of forest
over limestone flora in the Philippines, the
list shares some similarities in terms of plant
taxa representation. For instance, in Cebu
Island, the karst flora is mostly represented
by Moraceae and Araceae in Mt. Tabunan
(Cadiz and Buot, 2010), and Sapotaceae and
Moraceae in Mt. Lantoy (Lillo et al.,
2019a). There was also notable similar plant
family representation of Moraceae, Euphor-
biaceae, and Clusiaceae in Dinagat Island in
northeastern Mindanao (Lillo et al., 2019b).
Meanwhile, at the genus level, Garcinia was
highly represented in Mt. Tabunan (Cadiz
and Buot, 2010), and Palaquium in Mt.
Lantoy (Lillo et al., 2019a).
The forest over limestone flora of
Paranas, SINP shares similarity with some
plant taxa in other forests over limestone of
Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, Gunung Mulu
National Park has its forests over limestone
ecosystems dominated by the following
plants families (in terms of basal area and
species abundance): Dipterocarpaceae,
Fabaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Meliaceae and
Myrtaceae. Some genera in Gunung Mulu
that also occur in SINP include Shorea and
Palaquium (Proctor et al., 1983). Meanwhile,
in Vietnam, the limestone flora in Ben En
National Park is mostly represented by
Lauraceae, Fabaceae, Fagaceae, Meliaceae,
and Sapindaceae (Nguyen, 2015). Based on
taxa representation of the two forests over
limestone ecosystems, SINP shares more
similarities with Gunung Mulu National
Park than with Ben En National Park.
Notable plant species
Among the vascular plant species
recorded in Paranas, Samar, 39 have a
conservation status in the International
Union for Conservation of Nature and
Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of
Threatened Species (2020) and/or DENR
Administrative Order (DAO) 2017-11, also
known as the Updated National List of
Threatened Philippine Plants and Their
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
125
Categories. The plants are listed in Table 2,
TABLE 1. List of vascular plants inventoried in Paranas, Samar Island, Philippines.
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
126
Categories. The plants are listed in Table 2,
TABLE 1. (Continue)
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
127
Categories. The plants are listed in Table 2,
TABLE 1. (Continue)
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
128
Categories. The plants are listed in Table 2,
showing their corresponding conservation
status at global and national levels,
respectively.
Shorea negrosensis Foxw.
Shorea negrosensis is a Philippine
endemic tree species in Family Diptero-
carpaceae. This species, together with other
dipterocarp species, are exploited due to its
excellent source of wood for lumber
(Ghazoul, 2016), for general construction,
veneer, hardboard, cabinet, and furniture
making (Garcia et al., 2013). It is
categorized as Least Concern (LC) by the
IUCN, however, it is listed as Vulnerable
(VU) in DENR DAO 2017-11.
Wallaceodendron celebicum Koord.
This species (Fig. 2.D) is categorized as
Vulnerable in DENR DAO 2017-11. This
species is distributed in the Philippines and
Sulawesi. The wood of this tree is used for
furniture making in Leyte (Mangaoang and
Pasa, 2003).
Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb.
The species (Fig. 2.B) is endemic to the
Philippines (Luzon and Mindoro), and is
listed as Other Threatened Species (OTS) in
DENR DAO 2017-11. This is the first local
record of this species from Samar Island. Its
softwood is used for woodcarving in Ifugao
(Hayama, 2000).
Aquilaria cumingiana (Decne.) Ridl.
Aquilaria cumingiana (Fig. 2.E) is
known as a source of agarwood, a highly
prized resin with multiple economic uses
(Lee and Mohamed, 2016). This species
distributed in the Philippines and Indonesia
and is listed as Vulnerable (VU) by the
IUCN and in DENR DAO 2017-11.
Gymnostoma rumphianum (Miq.) L.A.S.
Johnson
The species is widely distributed in the
Philippines, Sulawesi, and Moluccas. This
Casuarinaceae species commonly grows on
limestone habitat and is used for piles,
posts, poles, and rafters. It is also used as a
source of fuelwood (Diem and Dommergues,
1990). The plant is categorized as Other
Threatened Species (OTS) in DENR DAO
2017-11.
Faunal diversity
A total of 106 terrestrial vertebrates
composed of 4 amphibian, 9 reptile, 84 bird,
and 9 mammal species were recorded during
the fieldwork (Table 3) with 71 (67%)
endemic to the Philippines. All four (100%)
species of amphibians recorded are endemic
to the Philippines, 3 (75%) of which are
Mindanao PAIC endemics. Of the 9 reptiles,
4 (44.44%) are endemic to the country, 3
(33.33%) of which are endemic to the
greater Mindanao PAIC. Fifty-six (66.67%)
of the species of birds are endemic to the
Philippines, 20 (23.81%) of which are
endemic to the Mindanao PAIC. Of the 9
mammals, 6 (66.67%) are endemic to the
country, 4 (44.44%) are endemic to the
greater Mindanao faunal region. As there
are no other published studies of faunal
diversity in Paranas, most of these represent
new locality records for the municipality.
All amphibian species recorded in the
study site belong to the genus Platymantis.
These frog species, namely Philippine
Wrinkled Ground Frog (Platymantis
corrugatus), Gunther's Wrinkled Ground
Frog (Platymantis guentheri), and Rabori's
Forest Frog (Platymantis rabori) were
documented in Paranas with a suspected
new locality record of Walter’s limestone
frog (Platymantis bayani; Fig. 3.A) from the
site. All forest frogs recorded are highly
terrestrial (Brown et al. 1997; Siler et al.,
2009). Rabor’s horned tree frog (Platymantis
rabori) and Walter’s limestone frog
(Platymantis bayani) are both listed as
Vulnerable in the Updated National List of
Threatened Philippine Fauna and Their
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
129
Categories (DENR-DAO 2019-09; Gonzalez
et al., 2018).
The 9 reptilian species recorded from the
study site (Table 3) belong to 6 families in
Order Squamata. The families Agamidae,
Scincidae, and Colubridae are represented
by 2 species each, with the remaining
families representing only 1 species each.
FIGURE 2. Photos showing some of the limestone flora of Paranas, Samar: A) Tectaria calcarea (C. Presl)
Copel., B) Artocarpus rubrovenius Warb., C) Hancea wenzeliana (Slik) S.E.C.Sierra, Kulju & Welzen, D)
Wallaceodendron celebicum Koord., and E) Aquilaria cumingiana (Decne.) Ridl.
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
130
The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 2. Vascular plants in Paranas, Samar Island with available conservation status from IUCN and/or
DENR DAO 2017-11.
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
131
The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 2. (Continue)
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132
The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 2. (Continue)
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
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The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 3. Terrestrial vertebrate fauna recorded from the forest over limestone study sites in Paranas, Samar.
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
134
The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 3. (Continue)
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
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The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 3. (Continue)
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The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 3. (Continue)
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
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The snakes were represented by 3 families,
TABLE 3. (Continue)
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
138
The snakes were represented by 3 families,
namely Colubridae, Lamprophiidae, and
Pareidae. Most of the species are listed as
least concern in the IUCN Red List, but a
large percentage has not yet been evaluated,
implying that further research is urgently
needed to be able to conserve and protect
these valuable animals and the habitat.
The 84 bird species recorded in the study
site belong to 43 families under 12 orders.
The Order Passeriformes is best represented,
with 49 species belonging to 26 families.
Some of the avian species observed during
the fieldwork categorized as Vulnerable in
the IUCN red list include the Southern
Rufous Hornbill (Buceros mindanensis ssp.
semigaleatus; Fig. 3.C) and Steere’s Pitta (Pitta
steerii ssp. coelestis). Moreover, Amethyst
Brown-dove (Phapitreron amethystinus)
and Samar hornbill (Penelopides affinis ssp.
samarensis) which were also observed
during the fieldwork are listed as Critically
Endangered and Endangered in the DENR-
DAO 2019-09, respectively.
A total of 4 volant mammal species
belonging to family Pteropodidae under
order Chiroptera were recorded in the study
site. All species are listed in the IUCN Red
List as Least Concern. Also, 5 non-volant
mammal species belonging to 3 families
under 3 orders were recorded. The
Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta) is
considered Near Threatened in the IUCN
Red List and categorized as Other
Threatened Species in the DENR-DAO
2019-09. The most represented order for
non-volant mammals was Rodentia with 3
species belonging to belonging to Family
Muridae, but this includes the Oriental
house rat (Rattus tanezumi), an introduced
species that is considered an agricultural
pest and poses a threat to other animals that
are native in the forests over limestone.
Notable animal species
Platymantis bayani Siler, Alcala, Diesmos,
and Brown 2009
Walter’s limestone frog (Fig. 3.A) is a
species of forest frog that is highly
associated with limestone karst habitats. It is
known only from Taft on the eastern side of
Samar (Siler et al., 2009), and this study
presents a new locality record for the
species in Paranas on the western part of the
island. An adult individual was hand-
captured in Brgy. Tenani on a rocky outcrop
at 314 meters above sea level (masl), higher
than its previous known upper elevation
limit of 140 masl (Siler et al., 2009). Very
little is known about this species which is
why it is categorized as Data Deficient in
the IUCN Red List and Vulnerable under
the DENR DAO 2019-09.
Buceros mindanensis semigaleatus
Tweeddale, 1878
The southern rufous hornbill (Fig. 3.B) is
endemic to the Mindanao PAIC, specifically
Samar, Calicoan, Buad, Biliran, Leyte,
Bohol, and Panaon (del Hoyo et al., 2020).
An assemblage of 5 adults and 1 juvenile
was photographed resting on a yakal tree in
Brgy. Tenani. It is categorized as
Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List and
Endangered under the DENR DAO 2019-09
as Buceros hydrocorax ssp. semigaleatus.
Draco ornatus Gray, 1845
The white-spotted flying lizard (Fig. 3.C)
is endemic to the Mindanao PAIC,
specifically the islands of Bohol, Dinagat,
Leyte, Mindanao, and Samar. An adult
individual was hand-captured on the trunk
of a coconut tree in Brgy. San Isidro on the
same tree as an adult Draco reticulatus. The
species is known to inhabit coconut
plantations as well as primary and
secondary forests (McGuire and Alcala,
2000). It is categorized as Least Concern in
the IUCN Red List.
VILLANUEVA ET AL. BIODIVERSITY IN FORESTS OVER LIMESTONE IN PARANAS
139
Cynocephalus volans Linnaeus, 1758
The Philippine flying lemur (Fig. 3.D) is
endemic to the Mindanao PAIC, specifically
Mindanao, Basilan, Biliran, Dinagat, Leyte,
Siargao, Bohol, Samar (Heaney et al., 1998)
and Mariripi (Rickart et al., 1993). An
individual was sighted during separate
fieldwork conducted by Mr. Jiro T.
Adorador in Brgy. Tenani. It is currently
categorized as Least Concern in the IUCN
Red List, although Heaney et al. (1998)
proposed it as Vulnerable due to widespread
destruction of their habitat. The latest
assessment by the Philippine Red List
Committee has delisted the species from the
DAO 2019-09 due to its stable population
and wide distribution (Gonzalez et al.,
2018), but it is nonetheless important as one
of the primary prey items of the Philippine
eagle (Ibañez, 2007).
Tarsius syrichta Linnaeus, 1758
The Philippine tarsier is endemic to the
Mindanao PAIC, specifically Bohol,
Dinagat, Leyte, Mindanao, Samar (Heaney
et al 1998), Basilan (Lawrence, 1939),
Biliran and Maripipi (Rickart et al., 1993).
An individual was sighted in Brgy. San
Isidro during the evening. It is categorized
as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List
and Other Threatened Species under the
DENR DAO 2019-09.
FIGURE 3. Photos of some notable forest over limestone fauna of Paranas, Samar: A) Platymantis bayani B)
Buceros mindanensis semigaleatus, C) Draco ornatus, and D) Cynocephalus volans. Photographs by P.J.S.
Tolentino (A, B, C) and J.T. Adorador (D).
TROPICAL NATURAL HISTORY 21(1), APRIL 2021
140
CONCLUSIONS AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
This study revealed the diversity and
uniqueness of forests over limestone
ecosystem biodiversity in Paranas, Samar
Island. Threatened species and their uses
were also noted in this checklist to highlight
the need for the conservation of these
species. Thus, it is essential to mainstream
this information to the localities in Paranas
and SINP through Communication,
Education, and Public Awareness (CEPA).
Since there are many unidentified plant
species, due to the lack of reproductive parts
collected from Paranas, it is recommended
to secure high-quality photographs of these
plants in future studies. These diagnostic
and scientific quality photographs in turn
will be deposited in public databases to
allow information sharing among botanical
experts as well as employ citizen science in
possibly identifying these unknown species.
The current ecotourism initiatives in Paranas
can also serve as an avenue in promoting
this information to the public. Furthermore,
more than gaining international support for
conservation and protection, the inclusion of
SINP in the UNESCO World Heritage List
can also highlight the biodiversity and
aesthetic values of the Philippine karst
landscapes on a global stage. Thus, future
studies on karst biodiversity, especially in
the other administrative municipalities
within SINP, are recommended.
To further support and strengthen its
nomination for the UNESCO World Natural
Heritage Site, further monitoring and
biodiversity assessments should be conducted.
Additionally, assessments should be
conducted on the physical attributes
(geology and landforms) of Samar’s karst
landscapes and ecosystem services provided
by the forests over limestone.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This study is part of CONserve-KAIGAN
GAN, a biodiversity program funded by the
Department of Science and Technology
(DOST) through the Grants-in-Aid (GIA)
Program. The Philippine Council for
Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources
Research and Development (PCAARRD)
patiently guided the team in the proper
implementation of the research program.
The authors would like to thank the
Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) Region 8; the Office of
the Protected Areas Super-intendent (PASu)
and the Protected Areas Management
Bureau of Samar Island Natural Park (SINP)
for issuing the Gratuitous Permit (GP No.
2019-16); the Provincial Environment and
Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in
Catbalogan City, Samar; and Basaranan
nga Organisasyon han San Isidro Samar
(BOSIS) for assisting the program team in
conducting the study in Paranas, Samar.
They also assisted the team during the
conduct of this assessment. The first author
would also like to thank the DOST Science
Education Institute (SEI) for providing her
the opportunity to take part in this program
through its Career Incentive Program (CIP).
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... Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) is a protected area covering approximately one-third of Samar Island. Some biodiversity studies were previously conducted within SINP, such as a faunal assessment (Patindol, 2016), floral and timber stock (Quimio, 2017), and the biodiversity assessment of the CONserve-KAIGANGAN Program in Paranas (Villanueva et al., 2021) and Taft . ...
... The most recorded genera were Elaeocarpus, Palaquium, Syzygium, and Cinnamomum. In another study by Cadiz and Buot (2019) Furthermore, if we compared the plant species number in Basey to other municipalities of Samar Island, it shared some similarities with Paranas in terms of high species representation of dipterocarps (Villanueva et al., 2021). Basey had higher number of plant species (67 spp.) than in Taft (30 spp.) and Guiuan (41 spp.) , although relatively lower than that of Paranas (Villanueva et al., 2021). ...
... In another study by Cadiz and Buot (2019) Furthermore, if we compared the plant species number in Basey to other municipalities of Samar Island, it shared some similarities with Paranas in terms of high species representation of dipterocarps (Villanueva et al., 2021). Basey had higher number of plant species (67 spp.) than in Taft (30 spp.) and Guiuan (41 spp.) , although relatively lower than that of Paranas (Villanueva et al., 2021). However, since the data gathered in this study was derived from published and not field assessment data, the comparison of flora indicated here was not conclusive. ...
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