Despite intensive efforts to document life on Earth, scientists estimate that more than 90 percent of the species on this planet have yet to be discovered. In order to make smart decisions about how to conserve what is left of our planet's biodiversity, we must make a concerted effort to rapidly increase our knowledge about these life forms and their distribution. This is the motivation behind the Academy's 2011 Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, which aims to dramatically improve our understanding of one of the most species-rich places on Earth. The 42-day expedition to the Philippines will focus on documenting life in the country's tropical rainforests and coral reefsthe two most diverse types of ecosystems in the worldand will also examine deep-water diversity adjacent to these reefs.
The expedition's shallow water team will conduct most of their research off the coast of Batangas Province on Luzon Island, in an area called the Verde Island Passage. Past research by scientists from the California Academy of Sciences and other institutions has suggested that this area is the "center of the center of marine biodiversity," home to more documented species than any other marine habitat on Earth. However, many new species remain to be discoveredAcademy scientists regularly find at least one new species on every dive in this area. During the expedition, the participating scientists will conduct side-by-side surveys of marine protected areas and non-protected areas to help the government determine how successful their current conservation plans are at fostering biodiversity.
"The expedition's results will help our government better promote integrated coastal resource management," said Malcom Sarmiento, Director of the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aq
|Contact: Stephanie Stone|
California Academy of Sciences