Fritsch, Peter W. , Amoroso, Victor B. , Coritico, Fulgent P. , Penneys, Darin S. .
Field exploration and new species of Ericaceae in Mindanao, Philippines.
The more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines contain a remarkable diversity of life. The country consistently places near the top globally for species diversity and rates of endemism. In addition, over the last 15 years the country has exhibited one of the highest rates of species discovery in the world. Unfortunately, it also ranks among the top countries for habitat loss and risk of species extinction, with only about 7% of primary forest remaining. Mindanao, the southernmost major island of the archipelago, has a particularly rich flora that is still poorly known. To increase understanding of Philippine land plant diversity, we conducted expeditions in central and southeastern Mindanao and the island of Camiguin off Mindanao's north coast in April–May 2014 and June–July 2015. Areas surveyed were Mt. Apo (the highest peak in the country at 2954 m), Mt. Dulang-Dulang, Mt. Hamiguitan, Mt. Hibok-Hibok, Mt. Kiamo, Mt. Limbawon, and Mt. Timpoong. The Philippines comprises a part of the Malesian center of diversity for the Ericaceae and particularly the subfamily Vaccinioideae (blueberries and wintergreens). During the expeditions, we discovered two new species of Diplycosia and anywhere from five to nine new species of Vaccinium. The uncertainty in the number of new Vaccinium species arises in part because, although some collections clearly show novel combinations of characters, it is unclear whether they represent new species or undocumented variation in currently recognized species. This uncertainty has arisen in part because of the possibility for island and sky-island effects confounding clear species breaks, a problem exacerbated by the relatively low number of Vaccinium collections for the island. The new species status of other Vaccinium collections is still uncertain because they either 1) have no flowers or fruits but their vegetative characters match no recognized species or 2) were collected in flower and the closest species match is only known in fruit. We also rediscovered several other Vaccinium species known only from their types, as well as other new land plant species and species records for Mindanao. Our work suggests that many more new plant species and species records await discovery in Mindanao and other islands in the southern Philippines.
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1 - Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 1700 University Drive, Fort Worth, TX, 76107, USA
2 - Central Mindanao University, Center for Biodiversity Research and Extension in Mindanao, Musuan, Bukidnon, Philippines
3 - University of North Carolina Wilmington, Biology and Marine Biology, 601 S College Road, Wilmington, NC, 28403, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Candidate for Awards:None