University of the Philippines Los Baños

Caves don’t just harbor bats; they are teeming with rich flora and fauna, and UPLB is spearheading the research in their ecology in the country. This summarizes the three papers of wildlife specialists who spoke about Philippine caves during the symposium entitled “Cave Ecology in the Philippines: the Time Has Come” held at the CAS Annex last July 29.

The symposium highlighted the University’s celebration of Ecology Week spearheaded by the CAS-Institute of Biological Sciences (IBS) from July 29 to August 2.

“We may be the first to offer a course in cave ecology in the country,” said Dr. Irineo L. Lit, Jr., Professor at the IBS and director of the Museum of Natural History (MNH). He traced the history of the Cave Biodiversity Research Program at the MNH in 2006 until it was offered as a special topic in Bio 191 (Special Topics) starting second semester of 2009-2010.

Dr. Daniel Edison M. Husana, Assistant Professor who finished his postdoctoral studies from Japan, spoke on “Shedding Light to a Less Explored Life Zone of the Planet: UPLB’s Research on Philippine Caves and Cave Bats.”

A wildlife adventurer, he graphically showed how caves have formed through evolutionary processes. He also presented some of the Philippine cave species (e.g., crabs) that he had discovered and named.

Assistant Professor Philip A. Alviola regaled the full-packed hall with his and his students’ adventures (and misadventures) as bat cave explorers.

“Information on ecology of bat caves is almost non-existent,” he said. “Hence since 2010, our students and theses advisees have been surveying about 50 bat caves nationwide and conducting ecological studies including their exploitation,” he shared.

“Abundant limestone areas and rain have endowed the Philippines with almost 2,000 caves, 70 percent of which are found in Luzon and Mindanao, said Lit. With the headway made by UPLB, the “time for cave ecology in the Philippines” has indeed come.