SU gets P9.2M DOST research grant for endangered deer conservation

Philippine Spotted Deer progeny, code-named “Sarah,” is seen at the Silliman University Center for Tropical Conservation Studies facility.*Leandro Cabrera photo

Silliman University (SU) received a research grant of P9.2 million from the Forestry and Environment Research Division of the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) to support the Biology Department’s project on the conservation of the endangered Philippine Spotted Deer.

Dr. Reynaldo V. Ebora, DOST-PCAARRD executive director, relayed the grant award letter to Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann, SU President, on July 8, a press release from the university said.

Titled “Enhancing the Conservation and Breeding Program of the Philippine Spotted Deer (Rusa alfredi) using Molecular-Based Approaches for Natural Resilience,” the research project aims to preserve genetic diversity and increase the number of individuals of the Philippine Spotted Deer in captivity and in the wild.

The project will be conducted for three years under the leadership of Dr. Robert S. Guino-o II, SU Biology Department research coordinator, with the guidance of Dr. Aye Mee F. Bartocillo, DOST Balik Scientist and SU faculty member.

The other research team members include Dr. Nadia P. Abesamis, former Biology Department chair, and Asst. Professor Persie Mark Q. Sienes, Biology Department Extension Committee chair.

The SU Center for Tropical Conservation Studies (CENTROP) currently has 77 individuals of the Philippine Spotted Deer in its facilities in Barangay Daro, Dumaguete City and Barangay Palinpinon, Valencia.

In 1990, CENTROP became the country’s first captive breeding center for the Philippine Spotted Deer.

Also known as the Visayan Spotted Deer, the Philippine Spotted Deer is an endangered species based on the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1, which classifies species at high risk of global extinction.

The species is also endemic to Panay and Negros islands.


The research project’s first objective is to understand the phylogenetic relationship of the Philippine Spotted Deer of the Negros-Panay Island using barcoding markers of three genes (CO1, 16S, and Cytochrome B), which Guino-o will lead.

The second objective is to estimate the inbreeding frequency of the Philippine Spotted Deer within and outside the SU CENTROP captive-bred stock using microsatellite markers, which Sienes and Abesamis will direct in the lab.

The third objective covers the understanding of the organism’s adaptive immune response through the histocompatibility complex class II (MHC) gene, which Dr. Bartocillo will lead.

Other collaborating agencies in the project include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Biodiversity Management Bureau; DENR Central Visayas; Philippine Genomic Center at the University of the Philippines – Visayas; Old Dominion University, USA; and Texas A&M University, USA.*

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