Assessment of Aquatic Biodiversity in Selected Mining Environs in Mindanao

The project is a three-year undertaking involving three SUCs in Caraga—Caraga State University (CSU), Surigao Del Sur State University (SDSSU) and Surigao State College of Technology (SSCT) with CSU as the lead institution. The project is part of the S&T Program for Responsible Mining in Mindanao. This project will assess the biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems in key mining environs in Mindanao and will specifically cover several key mining areas in Caraga Region. Assessment and inventory of aquatic flora and fauna near these key mining areas will be one of the first biodiversity initiatives in aquatic systems as impacted by mining activities in Mindanao along with several chemical analyses on the water, sediments and bioindicator fish species. 

General objective:

To assess biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems in selected mining areas in Mindanao 

Specifically, the study aims

 

1. to survey and document the diversity, distribution and abundance of aquatic (freshwater and marine) flora and fauna near key mining areas in Claver Surigao Del Norte (large scale nickel mines); Bunawan, Agusan Del Sur and Barobo, Surigao Del Sur (small scale gold mines) in comparison to nearby areas with no nickel mining (Gigaquit, Surigao Del Norte) and gold mining activity (Trento, Agusan Del Sur).

2. to monitor size structure and selected health indices in selected bioindicator fish near key mining areas;

3. to determine select physico-chemical parameters of the different aquatic systems identified;

4. to compare biodiversity indices with physico-chemical data between rainy and dry seasons

 

Highlights of Accomplishments

The project has successfully produced substantial results after three seasons of field data collection. For the freshwater environment, a total of 125 riparian/ plant species identified in different aquatic bodies impacted by mining. From these, a total of 27 were regarded as endemic, 7 as vulnerable; and 5 as threatened. The physico-chemical analyses of water bodies, characteristics (pH, D.O., TDS, salinity) and conductivity of the water and total mercury content of sediments were determined to better understand the status of the water in relation to the diversity of aquatic organisms, particularly, plankton, macroinvertebrates and fishes. Important implications of the presence of bioindicator plankton and macroinvertebrate species and their abundance reflect further the health of the aquatic system. The vital information of the presence of total mercury (tHg) in select bioindicator fish species and sediments has important implications on the risk of bioaccumulation and biomagnification of mercury for the fish-consuming public within these communities.

For the marine environment, a total of 16 mangrove species, 9 seagrass species were identified. Coral condition index of fair was observed in all sampling stations during dry season but Karaang Banwa and Taganito Reef have poor coral condition index during wet season. Taganito reef located less than 0.7 km from Taganito River has been affected by severe sedimentation. High percentage of silts buried or covers benthic attributes in Taganito Reefs. A total of 98 species from 23 families of reef fishes were identified and a total of 24 macroinvertebrates species were found in all the marine areas. Year 2 wet season field data collection will be conducted from November & December 2014 until January 2015.

Several outputs of the project has been presented to stakeholders: The year 1 macroinvertebrate diversity assessment in key freshwaters near mine sites in Claver, Surigao Del Norte was presented last July 10-11, 2014 during the 36th National Academy for Science and Technology (NAST) Annual Scientific Meeting last July 10-11, 2014 at the Philippine International Convention Center, CCP Complex, Manila by JH and JC Jumawan. Outputs from all study components of the project were presented by the respective study component researchers (RASeronay: Marine Studies; MED Quiao: Physico-chem; LZBoyles: Hematolgy and Histology; RPMagdugo: Sea grass; JCJumawan: Macroinvertebrates) during the latest CSU-In house review last August, 2014.