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
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
The study has given the opportunity to some of Dr. Lagman’s undergraduate students to assist.
During July through September 2013, Dr. Lagman and her research team based at institutions across the Philippines continued gathering data and holding meetings virtually and in person to discuss findings and research plans. A PhilFishConnect meeting with the PIs at the various participating institutes, the students supported by the grant, and the U.S. collaborator Dr. Kent Carpenter (who joined via Skype) was held on July 4, 2013 at De La Salle University. Regarding sample processing, with about 10 microsatellites per species, 30-50 samples per site, and collections from 6-9 sites, each institution participating in the project is expected to conduct at least 3,600 polymerase reactions (PCR).
The partners based at the University of Philippines Mindanao have been having difficulty with amplification and are scheduled to visit De La Salle University in October to resolve any problems with the amplification techniques. A microsatellite marker data analysis workshop for 25 participants representing each participating institution, scheduled to be held on October 14 and 16 at the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, will cover topics on allele calling, basic population genetics, assignment testing using classification or clustering approaches, and statistical approaches. In addition, six student papers on initial results of the PhilFishConnect project were accepted for oral presentation at the 12th National Symposium on Marine Science, organized by the Philippine Association of Marine Scientists, which is set to take place October 24-27, 2013. The work on the Philippine Genetic Diversity Network (PGDN), an on-line directory of researchers, projects, and institutions collecting genetic data for biodiversity management, has been stepped up, and the webpage is scheduled to be launched during the symposium as well. The students will continue running PCR tests in the lab and will continue to follow the schedule for microsatellite data gathering. During the next quarter, the research team is also planning to focus on written publications on the species identification aspect of their work.
Meanwhile, Dr. Maria Carmen Ablan Lagman has received a fellowship from the Fulbright Program to visit the University of Oregon for several months of work with Dr. Eli Meyer on the assembly of the transcriptome of the mud crab S. serrata.