A senior VSU BS in Marine Biology student landed second in the undergraduate category of the Young Systematic Biologist Forum during the 35th Association of Systematic Biologists of the Philippines (ASBP) symposium at the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City, May 31.

Jezil Romeo M. Bertulfo bested 15 paper submissions around the country with his research on Diversity and taxonomic distinctness of reef fishes in the proposed snorkeling area of Digyo Island in Inopacan, Leyte. Bertulfo competed among four other finalists and won as first runner up to a student research of the University of Santo Tomas.

Bertulfo’s research documented the different species of reef fish in Digyo Island in Leyte using classic, conventional, and new taxonomic indices. The results of the study, which illuminated a robust but sensitive biodiversity in the island, can help inform resource management of the island which is gaining popularity among tourists.

Bertulfo’s thesis adviser, Assistant Professor Art Russel Flandez, said that it was Bertulfo’s first time to compete nationally.

“It wasn’t bad for a first-timer. Our hard work paid off and we returned home with pride,” told Prof. Flandez in an interview.

Bertulfo received a cash prize and certificates through ASBP President Dr. Lawrence Liao from the Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University. He had been accompanied by Flandez, one of VSU’s marine ecologist and ichthyologist, throughout the four-day forum.

The ASBP is a national organization of Filipino taxonomists and systematists which invites student researches in annual conferences.