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Philippine mountain range a biodiversity hotspot, with over 150 animal species found, study says

By on Feb 10, 2013 in Animals, Asia, Science Comments

Sierra Madre Mountains, a mountain range in the Philippines is being noted to be a biodiversity hotspot, with a recent study saying that researchers have already found over 150 species of reptiles and amphibians in the area. It is located at the Northeastern coast of Luzon, the largest island in the country.

Pelochelys cantorii turtle Philippines

Pelochelys cantorii, a soft-shell turtle
species in the Philippines

Credit: Rafe M. Brown/ZooKeys

As noted at Live Science on Saturday, February 9, 2013, a team of researchers have already found over 29 amphibians, 30 lizards, 35 snakes, five turtles, and two crocodile species in Sierra Madre, which is also the longest mountain range in the Philippines and covers 10 provinces of Luzon.

According to the report, with full details explained in a catalog at journal ZooKeys published on Wednesday, February 7, most of the species found are native to the island, which include a bizarre soft-shell turtle called Pelochelys cantorii, as shown here in the photo, along with other new reptile and amphibian species.

Based on the abstract of the study released by ZooKeys, a total of 49 amphibian species have been documented, 44 of which are native and a remarkable 32 endemic. Luzon is being noted to have 106 native species, and 76 of them are unique to this region.

Also described in the said catalog is a frog called Platymantis cagayanensis, which has yellow upper irises and calls (“tuk-tuk-tuk”), a colubrid snake called Hologerrhum philippinum, which sports vibrant-yellow skin decorations, and pale-colored frogs called Rhacophorus appendiculatus, which were found at Mt. Cagua, in Cagayan.

Researchers emphasized on their study, which is a result of combined data from several extensive surveys made during the past years, that the discovery of these species is a major challenge for them to monitor these communities through time. This is to assess their responses to land use changes, climate change, among others.

Apparently, the conservation of this mountainous area of Luzon as a biodiversity hotspot has been going on for years. However, it is facing tons of obstacles such as logging, mining, and the conversion of natural habitats into agricultural lands, industrial zones, or commercial areas.

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