these larvae are eaten by the corals,
so they have a low rate of survival. It
is erroneous to assume that densely
populated reefs encourage biodiversity; on the contrary, they reduce it!
There are only a few hundred species of corals and around 500 fish
species on tropical coral reefs (here).
That may seem ridiculous in the case
of the Philippines, with their fantastic
biodiversity in terms of other groups
of animals. A biodiversity “hotspot”
such as the island of Balicasag harbors
around 5,000 mollusk species, 900
crustacean taxa, and many thousands
of species belonging to other groups.
Only a few species can compete successfully with corals in the battle for
habitat. The winners are often coral
parasites such as mollusks of the families Ovulidae and Coralliophilidae. I
assume that the same applies to the
dominant species of worms, crustaceans, etc.
It is true that a reef damaged by
dynamite is far from an attractive
sight, leaving aside the fact that this
method of fishing poses major dangers
for the fishermen themselves: many
of them lose hands, arms, and all too
frequently even their lives due to accidents during the explosion. For these
reasons alone, fishing with dynamite
should cease. I don’t know precisely
how disastrous the consequences of
fishing with cyanide are, but I would
imagine there could hardly be a worse
method of collecting fishes.
CORAL: In addition to numerous other
malacological collections that you have
built up and made available to international museums, your Institute in Cebu,
on the island of Mactan, is home to a
collection of marine-snail shells that is
probably one of the most comprehensive in the world. What is particularly
special about this collection, and how
do scientists all over the world gain access to it?
Poppe: The Philippine Collection of
Conchology, Inc. is certainly not the
largest collection in the world, but it
is, without doubt, the most compre-
hensive and best-documented col-
lection of Philippine marine snails.
Around 1865, Hugh Cuming spent
three years collecting specimens in
the Philippines, and his collection is
now in the British Natural History
Museum. Many Philippine species
were described by European scientists
on the basis of his material. Later,
around 1904, the American research
vessel Albatross made collections for
the U.S. in coastal waters around the
Philippines, and a short time later,
staff from the Paris Museum combed
the deeper waters of the archipelago
in search of new species, discovering
hundreds, if not thousands.
CORAL: Guido, thank you for this inter-
view, and we wish you every success in
your continuing study of these fascinat-
ing marine snails!