Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 2475–2495 | Cite as

Species richness and abundance of non-cryptic fish species in the Philippines: a global center of reef fish diversity

  • Kevin Thomas B. Go
  • Jonathan A. Anticamara
  • Justin Albert J. de Ramos
  • Saula F. Gabona
  • Daizy F. Agao
  • Ebenezer C. Hererra
  • Arselene U. Bitara
Original Paper


The Philippines is dubbed the ‘global center of marine biodiversity’ for having the greatest number of reef fish species per unit area in the world, mainly based on analysis of museum collections. However, to date, there is no national assessment of the status of Philippine reef fish species based on species abundance and distribution. We conducted underwater visual census belt transect surveys of all non-cryptic reef fish, to explore spatial trends in fish biodiversity and to assess the national status of Philippine reef fish species. We found that most places in the Philippines still hold high numbers of non-cryptic reef fish species, with 54 % of the surveyed transects having ≥22 reef fish species per 100 m2. However, only 13 % of all recorded species had high abundances (≥0.81 individuals per 100 m2) and wide distributions (≥291,964 km2) (category A species), while 33 % had either low abundances or restricted distributions (category B species), and 54 % exhibited both low abundances and restricted distributions (category C species). In addition, 97 % of the large-bodied species (maximum TL > 30.1 cm) were assigned to category B or C—a matter of concern, since 47 % of the recorded large-bodied species in our study are food-fish. The findings of our study present the most recent (2012–2013) national assessment for all non-cryptic reef fish species using standardized methods, and highlight the need for conservation action for many Philippine reef fish species, upon which many Filipinos derive benefits such as food, income, livelihood, and recreation.


Biodiversity Coral reefs Conservation Marine reserves Philippine reefs Species assessment 



The authors would like to thank the Mayors and Local Government Units and Agencies of all the municipalities included in this research for their support. The authors are also thankful for the support of the Local People’s Organizations in Bolinao (Kaisahan ng mga Samahan Alay sa Kalikasan KAISAKA), Masinloc (Samahang Pangkaunlaran ng San Salvador SPSS), and Mabini (Samahang Pangkaunlaran ng San Teodoro SPSTI). Special thanks to the State Universities who helped in this research, Ateneo de Naga (Joanaviva Plopenio and Shane Bimeda), Bicol State University (Karina Luth Discaya, Antonino Mendoza, and Meek Salvador), Mariano Marcos University (Wilnorie Rasay), Palawan State University (Dr. Michael Pido), University of Eastern Philippines (Dr. Ronelie Salvador). Funding for this research comes from the following: Center for Integrative and Development Studies UP CIDS, Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development UP OVCRD (131307 PhDIA), OVCRD/Commission on Higher Education (CHEDBaR), and Natural Sciences Research Institute UP NSRI (Project Code: Bio-14-2-05 New), and the University of the Philippines (OVPAA) Creative Work and Research Grant (2014).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 101 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOC 80 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOC 607 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Thomas B. Go
    • 1
  • Jonathan A. Anticamara
    • 1
  • Justin Albert J. de Ramos
    • 1
  • Saula F. Gabona
    • 2
  • Daizy F. Agao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ebenezer C. Hererra
    • 1
    • 3
  • Arselene U. Bitara
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of BiologyUniversity of the Philippines, DilimanQuezon CityPhilippines
  2. 2.University of Eastern PhilippinesCatarmanPhilippines
  3. 3.Palawan State UniversityPuerto Princesa CityPhilippines

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