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Flora & Fauna in Philippines
 
 
 

The Philippine archipelago is one of the world's great reservoirs of biodiversity and endemism. The archipelago includes over 7000 islands, and a total land area of 300,780 kilometres².

The Philippines was never connected to mainland Asia via land bridges, so the flora and fauna of the islands had to cross ocean straits to reach the Philippines. The Philippines is part of the Indomalaya ecozone, and its flora and fauna is mostly derived from tropical Asia. Botanically, the Philippines are part of Malesia, a floristic province that includes the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Most of the Malesian flora is derived from tropical Asia, including the dipterocarps, which are the characteristic tree of the Philippine forests. Elements of the Antarctic flora, which originated in the ancient southern hemisphere supercontinent of Gondwana, are also present, including ancient conifers like podocarps (Podocarpus, Nageia, Sundacarpus) and araucarias (Agathis).

The ecoregions of the Philippines are defined primarily by the sea levels during the Ice Ages, which were 120 meters lower than at present, as billions of gallons of water were locked away in huge continental ice sheets. This drop in sea level connected many presently separate islands into larger islands, which allowed for exchanges of flora and fauna:

  • Greater Luzon included Luzon, Catanduanes, Marinduque, Polillo, and several small islands;
  • Greater Mindanao included Mindanao, Basilan, Bohol, Leyte, Samar, and adjacent small islands;
  • Greater Palawan included Palawan, Balabac, Busuanga, Culion, Cuyo, and adjacent small islands;
  • Greater Negros-Panay included Negros, Panay, Cebu, and Masbate;
  • Greater Sulu included the most of the Sulu Archipelago, from Tawi Tawi to Jolo.

These formerly linked islands each constitute a separate ecoregion, as does Mindoro, which remained separate from the rest, along with a few smaller islands, notably Camiguin, Sibuyan, and Siquijor.

Each group of islands that were linked by land bridges in the ice ages also constitutes a separate faunal region. The lack of a land bridge to the Asian continent prevented most of the Asian megafauna, including elephants, rhinoceros, tapirs, tigers, leopards, and gibbons, from reaching the Philippines, although they do inhabit the adjacent Indonesian islands of Sundaland, which were formerly linked to the Asian continent by lowered sea levels.

The Philippines' rainforests and its extensive coastlines make it home to a diverse range of birds, plants, animals, and sea creatures. It is one of the ten most biologically mega-diverse countries and is at or near the top in terms of biodiversity per unit area. Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere. Endemic species include the tamaraw of Mindoro, the Visayan spotted deer, the Philippine mouse deer, the Visayan warty pig, the Philippine flying lemur, and several species of bats.

The Philippines lacks large predators, with the exception of snakes, such as pythons and cobras, and birds of prey, such as the national bird, known as the Philippine eagle. Other native animals include the palm civet cat, the dugong, and the Philippine tarsier associated with Bohol. With an estimated 13,500 plant species in the country, 3,200 of which are unique to the islands, Philippine rainforests boast an array of flora, including many rare types of orchids and rafflesia. The narra is considered as the most important type of hardwood.

Philippine maritime waters encompass as much as 2.2 million kilometres² (850,000 miles²) producing unique and diverse marine life and is an important part of the Coral Triangle. There are 2,400 fish species and over 500 species of coral. The Apo Reef is the country's largest contiguous coral reef system and the second-largest in the world. Philippine waters also sustain the cultivation of pearls, crabs, and seaweeds.