Unique Birds of the Philippines

November 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

There is a good chance that the Philippines might have to change their conservation efforts when it comes to bird species. If the studies performed by Dr. David Lohman are correct, the Philippines could have more unique bird species than previously thought, and this would most certainly force the Philippine authorities to become stricter in regard to conserving these extraordinary birds. According to Dr. Lohman, it is one of the areas in the world that is overflowing with biodiversity and is astonishing in every way.

Over seven thousand islands make up the Philippines, and its wildlife is considered to be truly unique. Almost seventy-seven percent of the amphibians on the islands and sixty-four percent of the land mammals cannot be seen or found anywhere else in the world. When it comes to the bird life on the islands, it was believed that only thirty-one percent of the birds in the Philippines were endemic. Professor David Lohman then took it upon himself to begin a study to find out if some of the bird fauna could deliver distinct bird species that have not been recognized before. He decided to concentrate mainly on seven perching bird species, and by following the genetic lineages of these species, Professor Lohman has been able to determine a distinct history in regard to these bird species. In previous years, taxonomists would identify bird species through the color of their plumage and various markings found on birds, but Professor Lohman has pointed out that this form of identification is not accurate enough, saying: “Those features are not ideal, since closely related but distinct species can look similar.”

Due to the distance between the Philippines and the Asian mainland, it is believed that contact between mainland birds and those on the islands would be minimal, if none at all. By following the evolution of the bird species, Professor Lohman has found that a great number of Philippine populations were unique and not found in various Southeast Asia regions. “These unique genetic lineages were unknown before, however, our research hasn’t gone far enough to say these are new species”, explained Lohman, continuing by adding that “more rigorous analysis of the morphology may be needed to make that determination.”

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