Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Philippines


The red palm weevil (RPW) is a major pest of palms. It is native to southeast Asia and Melanesia, but in recent decades has vastly expanded its range as the result of multiple accidental anthropogenic introductions into the Middle East, Mediterranean Basin, Caribbean, and U.S.A. Currently regarded as a single species, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier), RPW displays remarkable color variation across its range, and consequently has a taxonomic history littered with new species descriptions and synonymization. We compared DNA sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene from RPW populations throughout the native and invaded ranges, to investigate the specific status and invasion history of this serious economic pest, and to identify possible common routes of entry. Analyses of COI haplotype data provide conclusive support, corroborated by sequences of additional nuclear gene regions, for the existence of at least two predominantly allopatric species. The true R. ferrugineus is native only to the northern and western parts of continental southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and is responsible for almost all invasive populations worldwide. In contrast, the second species, which is currently synonymized under R. ferrugineus and should be resurrected under the name R. vulneratus (Panzer), has a more southern distribution across Indonesia, and is responsible for only one invasive population; that in California, U.S.A. The distribution of COI haplotypes is used to discuss the possible existence of further cryptic species, sources and routes of entry of different invasive populations, and the implications of our findings for current control methods.

Concepts: DNA, Southeast Asia, Species, Middle East, Indonesia, Philippines, Asia, Curculionidae


BACKGROUND: The emigration of skilled nurses from the Philippines is an ongoing phenomenon that has impacted the quality and quantity of the nursing workforce, while strengthening the domestic economy through remittances. This study examines how the development of brain drain-responsive policies is driven by the effects of nurse migration and how such efforts aim to achieve mind-shifts among nurses, governing and regulatory bodies, and public and private institutions in the Philippines and worldwide. METHODS: Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted to elicit exploratory perspectives on the policy response to nurse brain drain. Interviews with key informants from the nursing, labour and immigration sectors explored key themes behind the development of policies and programmes that respond to nurse migration. Focus group discussions were held with practising nurses to understand policy recipients' perspectives on nurse migration and policy. RESULTS: Using the qualitative data, a thematic framework was created to conceptualize participants' perceptions of how nurse migration has driven the policy development process. The framework demonstrates that policymakers have recognised the complexity of the brain drain phenomenon and are crafting dynamic policies and programmes that work to shift domestic and global mindsets on nurse training, employment and recruitment. CONCLUSIONS: Development of responsive policy to Filipino nurse brain drain offers a glimpse into a domestic response to an increasingly prominent global issue. As a major source of professionals migrating abroad for employment, the Philippines has formalised efforts to manage nurse migration. Accordingly, the Philippine paradigm, summarised by the thematic framework presented in this paper, may act as an example for other countries that are experiencing similar shifts in healthcare worker employment due to migration.

Concepts: Psychology, Focus group, Qualitative research, Immigration, Human migration, Philippines, Policy, Nurse


On December 3, 2014, a type O foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak occurred in South Korea. Although vaccinations were administered, cases of FMD increased steadily for five months and reached 185 cases by April 2015. Most of the affected animals were pigs, which are vulnerable to vaccinations. The FMD virus belonged to the South-East Asia (SEA) topotype that had been observed three times in Korea from April 2010 to July 2014. However, the virus in December 2014 had a unique difference in a partial deletion of the 5' noncoding region, which had not been seen in the previous SEA topotype isolates that were identified in Korea. Therefore, we inferred that this outbreak was the introduction of a new strain and that South Korea was affected by genetically similar strains of the FMD virus similar to those from neighboring countries.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Virus, Vaccination, Philippines, Asia, East Asia, Foot-and-mouth disease


Dengue is a mosquito-transmitted virus infection that causes epidemics of febrile illness and hemorrhagic fever across the tropics and subtropics worldwide. Annual epidemics are commonly observed, but there is substantial spatiotemporal heterogeneity in intensity. A better understanding of this heterogeneity in dengue transmission could lead to improved epidemic prediction and disease control. Time series decomposition methods enable the isolation and study of temporal epidemic dynamics with a specific periodicity (e.g., annual cycles related to climatic drivers and multiannual cycles caused by dynamics in population immunity). We collected and analyzed up to 18 y of monthly dengue surveillance reports on a total of 3.5 million reported dengue cases from 273 provinces in eight countries in Southeast Asia, covering ∼10(7) km(2). We detected strong patterns of synchronous dengue transmission across the entire region, most markedly during a period of high incidence in 1997-1998, which was followed by a period of extremely low incidence in 2001-2002. This synchrony in dengue incidence coincided with elevated temperatures throughout the region in 1997-1998 and the strongest El Niño episode of the century. Multiannual dengue cycles (2-5 y) were highly coherent with the Oceanic Niño Index, and synchrony of these cycles increased with temperature. We also detected localized traveling waves of multiannual dengue epidemic cycles in Thailand, Laos, and the Philippines that were dependent on temperature. This study reveals forcing mechanisms that drive synchronization of dengue epidemics on a continental scale across Southeast Asia.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Fever, Dengue fever, Dengue, Viral hemorrhagic fever


In April 2016, southeast Asia experienced surface air temperatures (SATs) that surpassed national records, exacerbated energy consumption, disrupted agriculture and caused severe human discomfort. Here we show using observations and an ensemble of global warming simulations the combined impact of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon and long-term warming on regional SAT extremes. We find a robust relationship between ENSO and southeast Asian SATs wherein virtually all April extremes occur during El Niño years. We then quantify the relative contributions of long-term warming and the 2015-16 El Niño to the extreme April 2016 SATs. The results indicate that global warming increases the likelihood of record-breaking April extremes where we estimate that 29% of the 2016 anomaly was caused by warming and 49% by El Niño. These post-Niño Aprils can potentially be anticipated a few months in advance, and thus, help societies prepare for the projected continued increases in extremes.

Concepts: Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Philippines, Asia, Thailand, Islam, Global warming, East Timor


We describe a new species of fanged frog (Limnonectes larvaepartus) that is unique among anurans in having both internal fertilization and birth of tadpoles. The new species is endemic to Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. This is the fourth valid species of Limnonectes described from Sulawesi despite that the radiation includes at least 15 species and possibly many more. Fewer than a dozen of the 6455 species of frogs in the world are known to have internal fertilization, and of these, all but the new species either deposit fertilized eggs or give birth to froglets.

Concepts: Reproduction, Philippines, Amphibian, Frog, Tadpole, Frogs, Archaeobatrachia


Expansion of Hevea brasiliensis rubber plantations is a resurgent driver of deforestation, carbon emissions, and biodiversity loss in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asian rubber extent is massive, equivalent to 67% of oil palm, with rapid further expansion predicted. Results-based carbon finance could dis-incentivise forest conversion to rubber, but efficacy will be limited unless payments match, or at least approach, the costs of avoided deforestation. These include opportunity costs (timber and rubber profits), plus carbon finance scheme setup (transaction) and implementation costs. Using comprehensive Cambodian forest data, exploring scenarios of selective logging and conversion, and assuming land-use choice is based on net present value, we find that carbon prices of $30-$51 per tCO2are needed to break even against costs, higher than those currently paid on carbon markets or through carbon funds. To defend forests from rubber, either carbon prices must be increased, or other strategies are needed, such as corporate zero-deforestation pledges, and governmental regulation and enforcement of forest protection.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Southeast Asia, Economics, Forestry, Forest, Philippines, Asia, Deforestation


Eutrophication, or excessive nutrient enrichment, threatens water resources across the globe. We show that climate change-induced precipitation changes alone will substantially increase (19 ± 14%) riverine total nitrogen loading within the continental United States by the end of the century for the “business-as-usual” scenario. The impacts, driven by projected increases in both total and extreme precipitation, will be especially strong for the Northeast and the corn belt of the United States. Offsetting this increase would require a 33 ± 24% reduction in nitrogen inputs, representing a massive management challenge. Globally, changes in precipitation are especially likely to also exacerbate eutrophication in India, China, and Southeast Asia. It is therefore imperative that water quality management strategies account for the impact of projected future changes in precipitation on nitrogen loading.

Concepts: Water, United States, Precipitation, Climate, Water pollution, Nitrogen, Philippines, 21st century


We investigated species diversity and distribution patterns of the marine red alga Portieria in the Philippine archipelago. Species boundaries were tested based on mitochondrial, plastid and nuclear encoded loci, using a general mixed Yule-coalescent (GMYC) model-based approach and a Bayesian multilocus species delimitation method. The outcome of the GMYC analysis of the mitochondrial encoded cox2-3 dataset was highly congruent with the multilocus analysis. In stark contrast with the current morphology-based assumption that the genus includes a single, widely distributed species in the Indo-West Pacific (Portieria hornemannii), DNA-based species delimitation resulted in the recognition of 21 species within the Philippines. Species distributions were found to be highly structured with most species restricted to island groups within the archipelago. These extremely narrow species ranges and high levels of intra-archipelagic endemism contrast with the wide-held belief that marine organisms generally have large geographical ranges and that endemism is at most restricted to the archipelagic level. Our results indicate that speciation in the marine environment may occur at spatial scales smaller than 100 km, comparable with some terrestrial systems. Our finding of fine-scale endemism has important consequences for marine conservation and management.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Eukaryote, Species, Plant, Philippines, Marine biology, Endemism, Archipelago


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: We studied the local knowledge and uses of medicinal plants among the Ivatan people of Batan Island by documenting their traditional practices. AIM OF THE STUDY: To identify the types of medicinal plants used in self-care by the indigenous people of Batan Island, the Philippines and to investigate the extent to which the plants are used. Conservation of medicinal plants and natural resources is becoming increasingly important; thus, this research aims to collect information from local people concerning the use of medicinal plants on Batan Island. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 116 informants were interviewed, allowing for calculated informant consensus factors (ICF), use value (UV), and fidelity levels (FL) for each medicinal plant species used to cure various ailments. This helped to establish a consensus on which species are effective for particular ailments, as well as the species' relative importance, and enabled us to understand the extent of the potential utilization of each species. RESULTS: We describe the therapeutic effects of 112 plant species used medicinally against 13 categories of ailments. The highest ICF value (1.00) was cited for diseases of the ear and respiratory system and for use during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. The maximum FL of 100% was found for Carica papaya, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Musa sapientum, and Pedilanthus tithymaloides, used for the treatment of constipation, cuts and wounds, diarrhea, and dislocations and fractures, respectively. The highest UV was for Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (0.67). All plants with high UV were used for exogenous diseases, certain infectious and parasitic diseases, injuries, poisonings and other consequences of external factors, and diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. In addition to its use for endogenous disease and lifestyle-related diseases and illnesses, Moringa oleifera is also used for diseases of the circulatory system, with a UV of 0.57 and Cocos nucifera is used for diseases of the genitourinary system, with a UV of 0.56. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that many plant species play an important role in local healing practices and that knowledge of traditional medicine is still utilized and plays a significant role on Batan Island. The documentation of this rich traditional ethno-medicinal knowledge has furnished us with novel information that not only will provide recognition of this undocumented knowledge but also could provide new avenues for pharmacological investigations to improve healthcare for a range of ailments.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Medicine, Ayurveda, Philippines, Alternative medicine, Herbalism, Medicinal plants, Batanes