Wildlife Biologist

A recent photo with Guttman's stream frog, a species of frog lost to science for 27 years until our rediscovery in 2020.


Kier Mitchel E. Pitogo (he/him/his)

Wildlife biologist from the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, with experience working in biodiversity management. Experienced in collecting and analyzing biodiversity data to inform and implement conservation strategies, navigating complex policies governing biodiversity and resource management, and dealing with socio-cultural dynamics and diverse conservation values in the southern Mindanao region.

Transitioning my focus towards scientific research, I pursued a Ph.D. at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, under the guidance of Rafe Brown (started in Spring 2023). My research will delve into the within-island drivers of amphibian diversification in the Philippines, such as mountains and other topographically complex areas. Through this exploration, I aim to leverage the findings, alongside broader concepts from evolutionary biology, to inform concrete conservation actions and contribute to the advancement of biodiversity science and conservation practices in the Philippines. Check my profile for more information. 

Research Interests: Philippine biodiversity, conservation science, community ecology, herpetology, evolutionary biology


MAY 2024

I feel so kilig that my conservation and scientific work has been featured on the social media profiles of the United States Embassy in the Philippines. It is such an honor and an exhilarating experience to have my efforts recognized by such a prestigious agency! Links to posts in Facebook, Twitter (X), Instagram (check profile @usembassyph).

APRIL 2024

After six years of dedicated fieldwork, the results of our project on the ecological drivers of local orchid collection is now out in Biotropica. We have meticulously documented orchid diversity in Mt. Busa Key Biodiversity Area since 2018. Yet, our inquiry extended beyond mere documentation. We delved into the reasons behind the selective collection of certain orchid species, while others remain overlooked. Turns out, it is mostly about the eye-catchers—epiphytic orchids with multiple, large, and vibrant flowers in low-elevation forests are more likely to end up in village gardens. We predicted the collection risk for 178 orchid species in the KBA, confirming that the threatened and “popular” ones are most at risk of collection. We present recommendations for future research directions and how our trait-based results can guide supply-side measures. Additionally, we underscore the pivotal role of village gardens in advancing scientific inquiry and conservation efforts.


The second review of Philippine herpetology research is out! Building upon the pioneering work of RM Brown, Diesmos, & Alcala in 2002, which examined developments in Philippine herpetology research up to 2001, our recent review extends their work, encompassing advancements made from 2002 to 2022. Notable findings include a substantial increase in publications, a pressing need for integrative taxonomic research, identified geographical gaps requiring immediate surveying, a balanced representation between Filipino and foreign first authors, and a persistent gender gap in first authorship. Despite its length, this review offers a thorough understanding of the advancements in Philippine herpetology over the past two decades, both academically and communally. We dedicate this paper to the memory of the late Dr. Angel C. Alcala.

Our paper Avian fauna of Mount Melibengoy, southern Mindanao, Philippines: conservation implications on a partially protected key biodiversity area under threat is now published in the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology. This collaborative paper resulted in the compilation of data on 130 bird species within the mountain, which brings the total bird species count in the Mt Busa Key Biodiversity Area (KBA 196) to approximately 165, including the iconic Philippine eagle. We call for declaring the remaining unprotected forests in Melibengoy and Malibato mountains as a Wildlife Critical Habitat and, eventually, a Protected Area. The timing of this publication aligns with the ongoing efforts of DENR-PENRO South Cotabato to incorporate the unprotected portions of KBA 196 into the Philippine National Integrated Protected Areas System.


NOVEMBER: Our paper describing Pinalia campanulata Saavedra & Pitogo is already out, the first orchid species to be described from southern Mindanao! This is a high-elevation species found in the Mount Busa Key Biodiversity Area and is distinguished by its prominently campanulate, crystal-white flowers unique in the genus Pinalia. This discovery not only bolsters the ongoing process to establish the KBA as a nationally legislated protected area but also underscores the importance of continued field-based biodiversity surveys in biologically underexplored areas in the Philippines, such as Southern Mindanao. Access the paper here

AUGUST: Our paper on human cooperation in a Sama community in the southern Philippines is finally out after ~10 years of work, from data gathering to publication! Together with researchers from the Institute of Human Origins ASU, we examined the inter-household transfers of ALL material goods in the community for ~2.5 years (w/c has never been done in other small-scale societies). Our results overwhelmingly show that reciprocity is by far the most important determinant of resource transfers (who gives and gets more)— even more important than kinship and need differences. Access the paper here