Research Matters

Research Matters

Phillipine Biodiversity

Cameron Siler, graduate student at the University of Kansas, recently spent nine months hop-scotching islands in the Philippines where he catalogued, studied and promoted that nation's astounding biodiversity.

Aired April 11, 2010

2 minutes (2.7 MB) | Download mp3


A young researcher works to safeguard Philippine wildlife. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Growing up, Cameron Siler, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, was a self-admitted amphibian nerd. He crammed his room with aquariums, and passed countless hours nurturing and studying frogs and lizards.

Siler: Throughout elementary middle and even high school I was the kid who went down to the local pond to catch frogs in the rivers and in the ponds. In my room I had ten 10-gallon aquariums and there were 20 to 25 different animals - mostly frogs, and some different lizards and newts and salamanders.

Today Siler has built his infatuation into a promising career as a conservation biologist and scientist. In 2009, he spent nine months hop-scotching islands in the Philippines, where he studied and promoted that nation's astounding biodiversity.

Siler: We would take boats, vans, busses - and occasionally we'd fly on little propeller plains or small jets - packing on 25 of our team members and countless bags for personal gear and camping gear. It's a pretty exhausting process getting between these areas.

Siler collected photographs, recordings, genetic samples and notes on every specimen encountered. He wrote reports for the Philippine government and gave the data to the KU Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Institute and the Philippine National Museum. He's also educating young Filipinos about biodiversity.

Siler: Students really don't get to learn too much about biodiversity and how important it is to protect the forest and animals that live in it. So part of my effort is trying to bridge this gap by creating education tools using biodiversity information, photographs, and illustrations of frogs, lizards and snakes, and putting together publicly available tools for students from high school level to college level.

For more on biodiversity in the Philippines, log on to Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the University of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

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