New species of orchid, flowering plant, grass fern, and snout beetle were recently discovered in Mt. Hamiguitan, Davao Oriental, Mindanao.
The discovery was made possible through a project implemented by Central Mindanao University (CMU), as part of the Biodiversity S&T Program of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).
The Biodiversity S&T Program is in collaboration with the Museum of Natural History of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (MNH-UPLB), National Museum of the Philippines (NMP), and Davao Oriental State University (DOrSU).
New Plant Species
Five new plant species were discovered in Mt. Hamiguitan Range in Davao Oriental. Of these seven, two were flowering plants: The Hypericum perryongii Galindon which flowers from June to July and fruits in August; and the Vaccinium hamiguitanense which has similarities with the Vaccinium gitingense, but has smaller leaf blades and inflorescences with fewer flowers.
The third discovery is a new terrestrial orchid species, called Dilochia deleoniae. This endemic species prefers to open in partly shaded habitat, where it is found in clumps or scattered.
The fourth is new species of grass fern, Actinostachys minuta Amoroso & Coritico. It is an epiphyte on the trunk of the tree fern embedded between adventitious roots. (Read: Scientists discover new snake species, names it after a Harry Potter character)
Lastly, the fifth discovery is the Gymnosiphon syceorosensis (Burmaniaceae), a type of flowering plant that obtains nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi. It is considered as the second new species in the Philippines, because only one population of G. syceorosensis has been discovered in the country.
Discovery of Animal Species
Meanwhile, two animal species were also discovered in Mt. Hamiguitan. The Metapocyrtus (Artapocyrtus) bronsi, is a new species of snout beetle. It was named after the Mandaya word “bronsi” due to the prominent bronze scale markings on the integument.
The research team also collected a pygmy grasshopper called Arulenus validispinus, which had not been recorded for more than a century. This species is commonly known as the four-spined pygmy devil. (Read: This Fine Cacao in Mindanao Will Transform PH Chocolate)
Biodiversity S&T Program
The 3-year PCAARRD’s Biodiversity S&T Program aims to update, assess, and monitor biodiversity and evaluate the physico-chemical properties of selected mountain ecosystems in Mindanao for conservation and sustainable development. (Read: How Fossil Discoveries Are Proving the Need to Invest in the Sciences)
Headed by Dr. Victor B. Amoroso, the assessment of biodiversity was conducted in selected mountain ecosystems such as Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental, Mt. Apo in North Cotabato, Mt. Pantaron Range in Bukidnon, and Mt. Tago Range in Bukidnon.
This research has explored the different ecosystems in a landscape approach, using biodiversity and forest condition assessments as a basis.
Among the significant accomplishments of the project is the discovery of new species and new species records for both flora and fauna in Mindanao.