by Christine Godinez Ortega
Institute biologist and former Vice Chancellor for Research & Extension (OVCRE) Dr. Olga M. Nuneza released two of her latest publications: Photographic Guide to Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Bats of the Caves in Mindanao, Philippines (2012, 113 pp.) published by the OVCRE; and, Photographic Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Mindanao, Philippines (2012, 72 pp.).
Both guides aim to make Filipinos aware of Mindanao’s rich faunal resources and to support conservation efforts through information dissemination.
The Photographic Guide to Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Bats of Caves in Mindanao, Philippines is the result of a CHEd-funded research project titled “Taxonomic and Ecological Study on the Herpetofauna, Birds, and Bats in Karst Limestone Areas in Mindanao” with funding support from CHEd and the MSU-IIT.
In the preface, Nuneza says that she and her team documented six species of frogs, 12 species of reptiles, 21 species of bats and four species of birds. But the present photographic guide includes only 117 colored photos of the vertebrate fauna in 47 caves found in the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Davao Oriental and in the cities of Iligan, Valencia, and Surigao.
Included in the descriptions of the wildlife documented in this guide is the description of the caves which, according to the book’s introduction, are rarely given attention whether in the Philippines, in the US or in other countries.
The colored plates are accompanied with descriptions of the fauna habitats, sites and niches where and how they were found. The captions include sizes of animals, estimates of sea levels in reckoning land elevations and, most important, whether the species is threatened or endangered.
The Photographic Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Mindanao, Philippines on the other hand, is the result of the research project titled “Faunal Diversity and Conservation of Critical Resources in Mt. Diwata, Agusan Del Sur”.
Samplings yielded 22 amphibians and 37 reptiles from Mts. Sambilikan, Magdiwata, Ararat, and Berseba of the Mt. Diwata Range. In the photographic guide, 37 species of amphibians and 80 species of reptiles are documented that included, according to the book’s preface amphibians and reptiles documented from other parts of Mindanao which may also be found in the forests of Mt. Diwata not yet surveyed. These amphibians represent about 34 per cent of the amphibians in the country while the reptiles represent about 41 per cent of all terrestrial reptilian species known in the Philippines.
The Chair of the MSU-IIT College of Science & Mathematics- Department of Biological Sciences Dr. Cesar G. Demayo said that Nuneza’s Guides are “good sources of information for researchers”. These books are in fact used by MSU-IIT graduate and undergraduate students, Demayo said.
Nuneza’s pioneering work should start the inventory of other areas of diverse and endemic species of Mindanao, Demayo added.
Nuneza has done research work widely among the vertebrate fauna in various Mindanao mountain ranges, forests and caves. She took her Ph.D. in animal physiology with a cognate in wildlife studies from the University of the Philippines. She is a Professor of Biology at the College of Science & Mathematics’ Department of Biological Sciences.
In 2006 she also published A Photographic Guide to Vertebrate Fauna of Mt. Malindang.
The books are available at the Office of Publication & Information, c/o OVCRE, Administration Building.–Christine Godinez Ortega , OC-OPI