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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Enhancing marine natural resource and biodiversity management in the Philippines by extending population connectivity research 

PI: Maria Carmen Ablan Lagman, De La Salle University 
U.S. Partner:  Kent Carpenter, Old Dominion University
Project Dates: June 2012 - May 2015

Project Overview 

Phillipines Partnership Picture
This research group presented its data through posters during the March 2013 visit of Dr. Drika Weller, a AAAS fellow on the PEER Science steering committee. Dr. Kerry Reeves and Ms. Becky Guieb of the USAID mission in Manila also participated.

Severe declines in fisheries resources have implications for millions of coastal families dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood in developing countries. In most cases, the communities dependent on the resources have very few alternatives to the loss of their fisheries-based livelihoods when resources are devastated. Fisheries in these areas urgently need management strategies that will not only halt overfishing and habitat degradation but also hasten recovery of fish stocks. Recovery and eventual sustainability of fisheries subjected to intense fishing pressure hinge on the availability of new recruits and their success in replenishing resources harvested from the system. Information on spatial structure of populations and connectivity will potentially benefit management efforts related to fisheries because it contributes to answering the biological question “why do species occur where they occur?” and “how can we ensure survival of populations in an area?".
This project will use naturally occurring genetic tags to obtain the information needed. Genetic markers will be screened using a recently developed technology called NextGen sequencing. The selected markers will be retrieved from samples from populations within selected bioregions in the Philippines and analyzed to determine which populations have distinct genetic signatures across the Philippine archipelago, likely to be dependent on other populations. This project compliments two major USAID programs, the Coral Triangle Initiative and the Global FISH Alliance. It will provide badly needed biological information on fish stock structure and population connectivity that should help local and regional agencies in setting and implementing fishery management policies to ensure that viable populations survive and thrive.
Summary of Current Activities
During October-December 2013, Dr. Maria Carmen Ablan Lagman and her research team based at institutions across the Philippines continued gathering their data. Microsatellite marker work is on schedule for K.pelamis, S. monotuberculatus and S. serrata, while some delays were encountered with A. hayacinthus and the fish A. polyacanthus analysis at the institutions outside of Manila. On October 14-16, 2013, twenty-eight graduate students from the five PEER project institutions attended a workshop conducted by Dr. Lagman and co-PI Dr. Gotanco of UPMSI on the basics of reading microsatellite marker data and options for analysis. Students working on the project started gathering substantial microsatellite marker data and have been evaluating, encoding, and conducting preliminary analysis. Dr. Lagman with her two co-PIs Dr. Gotanco and Dr. Nanola and their students presented six PEER project papers on the initial results of the PhilFishConnect project at the 12th National Symposium in Marine Science held on October 25-28, 2013, in Tacloban, Leyte. This symposium was held just a week before the city was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. The Philippine Genetic Diversity Network (PGDN) webpage, including a directory of researchers and research projects gathering genetic data and the genes of interest, was launched and features articles of interest, issues on genetic diversity, upcoming events among the practitioners, and a section on genetic data gathering and analysis tools.

Lagman Picture V

1-177 Jan 2014
The study has given the opportunity to some of Dr. Lagman’s undergraduate students to assist. Photo courtesy of Dr. Lagman

Microsatellite Marker Data Analysis Workshop participants. Photo courtesy of Dr. Lagman


As planned, Dr. Lagman is currently at Oregon State University (OSU) on a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship with Dr. Eli Meyer focusing their research on the assembly of the transcriptome of the mud crab S. serrata. After she returns home to Manila in the spring, a workshop on next-generation sequencing (NGS) is planned for mid-June 2014 with U.S. PEER collaborator Dr. Kent Carpenter and her Fulbright faculty host Dr. Meyer. During the first six months of 2014, data gathering and analysis will continue for the microsatellite markers from the collected samples. Discussion groups for data analysis will be convened as necessary. NGS data analysis is proceeding very well for the S serrata transcriptome, as this is being done by the PI at OSU. The Fulbright-supported project on gene expression will benefit from this PEER-funded project data and analysis as well. Two papers are expected to be produced as a result: one for the PEER project and another for the Fulbright-supported project.