by: Roselle Louise L. Publico
A DECREASE OF inhabitants in the Silliman University main campus was recorded due to a low number of plant species, high human disturbance and few habitats, researchers say.
It has been identified as the least inhabited for wildlife among the areas in the 62-hectare campus, according to a study by Dr. Ely Alcala, Abner Bucol, Reynaldo Tababa and Ella Mae Balancar of the Silliman University Angelo King Center for Research and Environmental Management (SUAKCREM), Negros State College of Agriculture and the Biology Department, entitled “Wildlife Habitat Assessment of the Afforested Campus of Silliman University, Dumaguete City, Philippines.”
The population of green frogs and green tree skinks (a species of lizards) which lived in the campus in moderately high numbers according to previous studies in 1950’s and 60’s, severely declined. The main factor contributing to this effect is the disturbance and change on habitats which resulted in the loss of their food source.
“The frogs and the skinks are species that are considered to be indicators of climate change. While they are vulnerable to human induced-habitat change, they are also vulnerable to climate change. If these two factors are put together, they increase the probability of extinction,” said Dr. Alcala.
He added: “We have recommendations on how to reduce the disturbance knowing that they require certain conditions like not draining the pond dry or removing too much vegetation… which are practical applications on the results. These studies have been done in the past so we try to encourage the students and professors to continue the study by monitoring. This is the only way we will know if we are doing harm to the animals, by monitoring their numbers and population.”
Alcala said that another aspect of the study is the possibility of replicating the biodiversity in the forest in campus conditions.
A complete inventory of the trees in the A.Y. Reyes Zoological and Botanical Garden and in the Mangrove Garden at the Dr. Angel Alcala Environment and Marine Science Laboratories was also conducted. The Botanical Garden was found to be the most habitable for wildlife due to its high plant diversity which attracted more animals.
The study, patterned after a former inventory of the University of the Philippines, Diliman on birds and bats, involved three campuses: Silliman University, Central Philippine State University (formerly, Negros State College), and Central Philippine Adventist College.