LEGATO and BioLuz, two projects focusing on sustainable land use, held a symposium to present the progress of their respective activities in the Philippines. LEGATO (Land-use intensity and Ecological Engineering – Assessment Tools for risks and Opportunities in irrigated rice based production systems) is an international project on sustainable development of rice ecosystems in Southeast Asia funded by the German Ministry of Science and Technology. BioLuz (Biodiversity Indicators for Sustainable Land Use in Luzon, Philippines) promotes sustainable land use based on the application of biodiversity indicators and is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service.
At the symposium, titled Natural and crop ecosystems from mountain peaks to lowland plains, LEGATO coordinator Josef Settle updated participants on the global achievements of the project and its connections to the Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). IPBES provides a common platform for science, government, and the private sector to exchange research on the economic value of ecosystem services.
Dr. Finbarr Horgan, terrestrial ecologist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), reported on IRRI’s research activities with LEGATO and their connections to the Global Rice Science Partnership. Dr. Damasa Macandog, professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), reported on the progress made by BioLuz and introduced the Biodiversity System Monitoring Database for Luzon.
The symposium featured 14 other presentations by students and staff from IRRI, UPLB, and the Museum of Natural History (MNH). Among the presentations were the use of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to determine rice varietal diversity at the LEGATO sites by Suja Thanga Srinivasan, geographical patterns in the efficiency of brown planthopper egg parasitoids by Liberty Almazan, the autoecology of ladybeetles in rice fields by Aimee Agbay, and rules of assembly for rice birds in Asia by Angelee Fame Ramal.
Josie Lynn Catindig, IRRI entomologist, and Aimeelyn Barrion-Dupo, MNH's curator for moths and spiders and associate professor at UPLB, discussed the history and state of the entomological collections at IRRI and UPLB, respectively. There was also an open discussion with Dr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez, director of MNH, on possible mechanisms to share resources between the two collections and to gain support on curation and modernization of these valuable resources.
The LEGATO/BioLuz symposium was held at the Crop and Environmental Sciences Division, IRRI on 1 June. It was organized by ecologists/entomologists and environmental scientists at IRRI and UPLB. The event was an important step toward greater collaboration between scientists and institutes in Los Baños to improve knowledge on rice landscapes and ecology.