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Plant Discovery in the Southern Philippines

Philippines Program

Plant Discovery in the Southern Philippines
NSF DEB-1754667 and 1754697)

The Philippines archipelago contains unique floral and faunal diversity that is critically threatened by habitat loss, with only 3-7% of original habitat remaining. To address the urgent need for further documenting this diversity in the face of impending large-scale species extinction, I am working with colleagues from the U.S. and the Philippines on a four-year project to document the land plants and lichens of the southern Philippines through a series of large field expeditions and subsequent taxonomic study. The project is funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation “Biodiscovery: Discovery and Analysis” program. The project team will make thousands of observations on the occurrence and abundance of species, as documented by physical collections for museum study and high-resolution photographs, with images and data all digitized and placed online in easily searchable formats. It will also develop a species tissue and DNA biorepository of the collections for future studies (for example, understanding species origins and relatedness). The data will be used to publish species inventories of the most ecologically sensitive areas for use in forest management and restoration, and species protection. The team will teach the methods and significance of biodiversity science to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as local Filipino scientists and community members. More broadly, this project will serve to reinforce and expand the longstanding ties between the scientists, institutions, and citizens of the U.S. and the Philippines.

Publications from the Project:

Amoroso VB, FP Coritico, PW Fritsch. 2020. Actinostachys minuata, a new species of grass fern from Mindanao, PhilippinesPhytoKeys 151:59–66.

Amoroso VB, FP Coritico, YLL Cariño, PW Fritsch. In press. Lycophytes and ferns of Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary. [book]

Coritico FP, VB Amoroso, FM Acma, YLL Cariño, PW Fritsch. 2020. Ferns and lycophytes of Mt. Tago Range, Bukidnon, southern Philippines: Species richness, distribution, and conservation statusPhilippine Journal of Science 149:773‒790.

Fritsch PW, VB Amoroso, FP Coritico, DS Penneys. In press. Vaccinium hamiguitanense (Ericaceae), a new species from the Philippines. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.

Nickrent DL. 2020. Gymnosiphon syceorosensis (Burmanniaceae), the second new species for the Philippines. PhytoKeys 146: 71-87.

Tan BC, R Ochyra, B-C Ho, H Bednarek-Ochyra. 2019. Distichophyllum shevockii (Daltoniaceae), a new moss species from the Philippines. Ann. Bot. Fennici 56:361–367.

Tandang DN, JMM Galindon, ER Tadiosa, FP Coritico, VB Amoroso, NE Lagunday, RAA Bustamante, D Penneys, PW Fritsch. 2020. Dilochia deleoniae (Orchidaceae), a new species from Mindanao, Philippines. PhytoKeys 139:91–97.

Research Team

Related Articles


Recent Research Publications Reveal the Details of New Plant Species—and Help Uncover the Workings of the Natural World

Botany is not a science for those who demand a steady routine. One day researchers might find themselves hiking up mountainsides through dense tropical rain forest or hunting down rare plants in parched deserts. The next day, they will be in the lab, peering through an electron microscope or studying DNA results.
The result of these efforts is usually a scientific paper, published in a peer-reviewed journal. Papers might describe a new species of plant or suggest a new way of approaching a problem. Taken as a whole, they reveal the workings of life on this plant.

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