Scientific advisory body, Fellowship of the Reefs, breathes new life into Tubbataha marine science research

Ecosystem research and monitoring is one of the main strategies in the management of Tubbataha.  Through research, park authorities determine ecosystem health, generate sound scientific information for decision-making, and measure biophysical indicators of management effectiveness.

To achieve these, Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) needs guidance from more experienced and specialized scientists.  Help is needed to develop in-house capability and raise the quality of scientific output on Tubbataha.  With this in mind, the Tubbataha management board established a scientific advisory body called the Fellowship of the Reefs.

The body consists of eight scientists from different disciplines and has accepted the responsibility of guiding, counseling, and furnishing technical advice to TMO for the next three years. They are:

1. Hazel O. Arceo, a Doctor of Science specializing in marine biodiversity, coral reef and fish ecology, and resource management. She is a faculty member of the Department of Biology and Environmental Science of the University of the Philippines-Cebu.  Dr. Arceo has been working with TMO since 2015, conducting reef fish monitoring and researching the soundscapes of Tubbataha through passive acoustics.

2. Ma. Theresa R. Aquino, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has served as a technical consultant of TMO since 2009. She conducted the first dedicated cetacean study of Tubbataha beginning in 2004 and participates in seabird and marine turtle monitoring. Dr. Aquino served as the deputy park manager and resident scientist of TMO from 2009 to 2011.

3. Roger G. Dolorosa has a Ph.D. Environmental Science and did the first dedicated study of gastropods and mollusks in Tubbataha. He is a Professor in the College of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences of the Western Philippines University-Puerto Princesa Campus. Dr. Dolorosa continues to provide scientific advice and guidance as a member of the Tubbataha Protected Area Management Boards.

4. Arne Erik Jensen is an environmental scientist specializing in geography, biology, and natural resources management and monitoring. He has decades of experience working with international conservation organizations and is an expert on birds. He designed the seabird monitoring protocol for Tubbataha in 2004 and has since been involved in seabird study and conservation in Tubbataha.

5. Wilfredo Rhoehl Y. Licuanan has a Ph.D. in Biology, specializing in coral taxonomy, coral reef ecology, and monitoring.  He is a Full Professor of the Biology Department and a University Fellow at De La Salle University.  He led the nationwide reassessment of the status of Philippine coral reefs. Dr. Licuanan has been studying the reefs of Tubbataha since 2012.

6. Nicholas J. Pilcher, a Doctor in Philosophy whose research focused on the analysis of marine turtle nesting grounds and the environmental threats they face. He specializes in marine turtle ecology and biology and has been involved in marine turtle monitoring since 2010.  Dr. Pilcher designed the marine turtle monitoring protocol for Tubbataha.

7. Maricor N. Soriano has a Ph.D. in Physics and is a Professor at the National Institute of Physics at UP Diliman. Her research revolved around Color, Optics, Video, and Image Processing applied to Marine Science and Spectral and Medical Imaging, among others. She led the assessment of ship grounding impacts in 2013 and onwards.

8. Cesar L. Villanoy has a Ph.D. in Physical Oceanography. He is an Academician of the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) specializing in ocean modeling, habitat connectivity, and pollution. He has conducted oceanographic studies in Tubbataha since 2006.

Thank you for all your help in the past and for your selfless contributions in the coming years!