David C. Blackburn

David C. Blackburn
University of Florida | UF · Department of Natural History

PhD

About

242
Publications
108,089
Reads
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4,309
Citations
Citations since 2016
129 Research Items
3271 Citations
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20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500600
Introduction
I focus on the diversity, evolution, and conservation of amphibians, with emphases on frogs, Africa, and anatomy.
Additional affiliations
July 2021 - present
Florida Museum of Natural History
Position
  • Curator
June 2015 - June 2021
Florida Museum of Natural History
Position
  • Associate Curator
September 2014 - June 2015
California Academy of Sciences
Position
  • Associate Curator
Education
August 2002 - June 2008
Harvard University
Field of study
  • Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
September 1998 - June 2001
University of Chicago
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (242)
Article
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Significance Frogs are the dominant component of semiaquatic vertebrate faunas. How frogs originated and diversified has long attracted the attention of evolutionary biologists. Here, we recover their evolutionary history by extensive sampling of genes and species and present a hypothesis for frog evolution. In contrast to prior conclusions that th...
Article
Theory predicts that sexually dimorphic traits under strong sexual selection, particularly those involved with intersexual signaling, can accelerate speciation and produce bursts of diversification. Sexual dichromatism (sexual dimorphism in color) is widely used as a proxy for sexual selection and is associated with rapid diversification in several...
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Although our inventory of Earth’s biodiversity remains incomplete, we still require analyses using the Tree of Life to understand evolutionary and ecological patterns. Because incomplete sampling may bias our inferences, we must evaluate how future additions of newly discovered species might impact analyses performed today. We describe an approach...
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Frogs (Anura) are one of the most diverse vertebrate orders, comprising more than 7,000 species with a worldwide distribution and extensive ecological diversity. In contrast to other tetrapods, frogs have a highly derived body plan and simplified skull. In many lineages of anurans, increased mineralization has led to hyperossified skulls, but the f...
Preprint
Full-text available
Teeth have been broadly maintained across most clades of vertebrates but have been lost completely at least once in actinopterygian fishes and several times in amniotes. Using phenotypic data collected from over 500 genera via micro-computed tomography, we provide the first rigorous assessment of the evolutionary history of dentition across all maj...
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Amphibians are a clade of over 8,400 species that provide unique research opportunities and challenges. With amphibians undergoing severe global declines, we posit that assessing our current understanding of amphibians is imperative. Focusing on the past five years (2016–2020), we examine trends in amphibian research, data, and systematics. New spe...
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Synopsis During feeding in many terrestrial vertebrates, the tongue acts in concert with the hyoid and pectoral girdle. In frogs, these three elements are interconnected by musculature. While the feeding mechanics of the anuran tongue are well-studied, little is known of how the motions of the tongue relate to the movements of the skeleton or how b...
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In tetrapods, fusion between elements of the appendicular skeleton is thought to facilitate rapid movements during running, flying, and jumping. Although such fusion is widespread, frogs stand out because adults of all living species exhibit fusion of the zeugopod elements (radius and ulna, tibia and fibula), regardless of jumping ability or locomo...
Article
We describe a new species of the genus Conraua from the Fouta Djallon Highlands in Guinea. The species is recognised as distinct from nominotypical C. alleni, based on morphological evidence and is supported by a recent species delimitation analysis, based on DNA sequence data. The new species is distinguished from its congeners by the unique combi...
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Neobatrachia, a clade representing the majority of extant anuran diversity, is thought to have emerged and diversified during the Cretaceous. Most of the early diversification of neobatrachians occurred in southern Gondwana, especially the regions that are today South America and Africa. Whereas five extinct neobatrachians have been described from...
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Miniaturization has evolved repeatedly in frogs in the moist leaf litter environments of rainforests worldwide. Miniaturized frogs are among the world's smallest vertebrates and exhibit an array of enigmatic features. One area where miniaturization has predictable consequences is the vestibular system, which acts as a gyroscope, providing sensory i...
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Miniaturization has evolved repeatedly in frogs in the moist leaf litter environments of rainforests worldwide. Miniaturized frogs are among the world's smallest vertebrates and exhibit an array of enigmatic features. One area where miniaturization has predictable consequences is the vestibular system, which acts as a gyroscope, providing sensory i...
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Zoos and natural history museums are both collections-based institutions with important missions in biodiversity research and education. Animals in zoos are a repository and living record of the world's biodiversity, whereas natural history museums are a permanent historical record of snapshots of biodiversity in time. Surprisingly, despite signifi...
Article
Full-text available
We describe a new species of the genus Conraua from the Fouta Djallon Highlands in Guinea. The species is recognised as distinct from nominotypical C. alleni , based on morphological evidence and is supported by a recent species delimitation analysis, based on DNA sequence data. The new species is distinguished from its congeners by the unique comb...
Preprint
Full-text available
Amphibians are a clade of over 8,400 species that provide unique research opportunities and challenges. With amphibians undergoing severe global declines, taking stock of our current understanding of amphibians is imperative. Focusing on 2016–2020, we assessed trends in amphibian publishing, conservation research, systematics, and community resourc...
Article
Full-text available
Color polymorphic animals offer a unique system for studying intraspecific phenotypic responses to climate change. Discrete color morphs are easy to identify, and correlated trait responses of morphs can indicate how climate warming may facilitate long-term maintenance of polymorphisms. We use a historical dataset spanning 43 years to examine tempo...
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Dollo's law of irreversibility states that once a complex structure is lost, it cannot be regained in the same form. Several putative exceptions to Dollo's law have been identified using phylogenetic comparative methods, but the anatomy and development of these traits are often poorly understood. Gastrotheca guentheri is renowned as the only frog w...
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The African anuran genus Cardioglossa contains 19 described species, most of which are distinguished from one another by striking patterns and colors. We present a well-resolved phylogeny based on analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear loci for 18 species of Cardioglossa. This provides the basis for species-delimitation analyses and interpreting his...
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Secondary sympatry among sister lineages is strongly associated with genetic and ecological divergence. This pattern suggests that for closely related species to coexist in secondary sympatry, they must accumulate differences in traits that mediate ecological and/or reproductive isolation. Here, we characterized inter‐ and intra‐specific divergence...
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Forty-nine years after the last description of a slippery frog, we describe a seventh species of the genus Conraua. The new Conraua is endemic to the Atewa Range Forest Reserve, central Ghana, and is described based on genetic, bioacoustics, and morphological evidence. Recent molecular phylogenetic and species delimitation analyses support this pop...
Article
Full-text available
Teeth are present in most clades of vertebrates but have been lost completely several times in actinopterygian fishes and amniotes. Using phenotypic data collected from over 500 genera via micro-computed tomography, we provide the first rigorous assessment of the evolutionary history of dentition across all major lineages of amphibians. We demonstr...
Article
Full-text available
Zootaxa is a mega-journal that since its inception, 20 years ago, has contributed to the documentation of the planet’s biodiversity. Its role concerning terrestrial vertebrates has been crucial especially for amphibians, which are the most threatened class of vertebrates. As current editors of the Amphibia section, we reviewed the state of knowledg...
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Synopsis The city and its urban biome provides an extreme laboratory for studying fundamental biological questions and developing best practices for sustaining biodiverse and well-functioning ecological communities within anthropogenic built environments. We propose by studying urban organisms, urban biotic communities, the urban biome, and the int...
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Habitat is one of the most important factors shaping organismal morphology, but it may vary across life history stages. Ontogenetic shifts in ecology may introduce antagonistic selection that constrains adult phenotype, particularly with ecologically distinct developmental phases such as the free-living, feeding larval stage of many frogs (Lissamph...
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The herpetological collections of the Museu do Dundo in Lunda Norte Province, northeast Angola, are among the most important in southern Africa and represent one of the largest collections of Angolan amphibians and reptiles in the world. The collection comprises more than 2,750 preserved specimens, including type specimens of taxa described by Raym...
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Recent molecular phylogenetic work has found that Breviceps Merrem, 1820 comprises two major clades, one of which, the B. mossambicus group, is widely distributed across southern sub-Saharan Africa. This group is notable for harboring abundant cryptic diversity. Of the four most recently described Breviceps species, three are members of this group,...
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Burrowing is one of the many locomotor modes of frogs (order Anura) and is found within many clades. Burrowing is generally categorized into two groups: forward-burrowing and backward-burrowing. While forward-burrowing is more rare than backward-burrowing, we show that it has evolved independently at least eight times across anurans and is correlat...
Article
Although Conraua goliath is well known as the largest living frog species, the diversity and evolution of the genus Conraua across sub-Saharan Africa remain poorly understood. We present multilocus phylogenetic analyses of the six currently recognized species that provide insights into divergence times, biogeography, body size evolution and undescr...
Article
Burrowing is one of the many locomotor modes of frogs (order Anura) and is found within many clades. Burrowing is generally categorized into two groups: forward-burrowing and backward-burrowing. While forward-burrowing is more rare than backward-burrowing, we show that it has evolved independently at least eight times across anurans and is correlat...
Article
Full-text available
Metamorphosis is widespread across the animal kingdom and induces fundamental changes in the morphology, habitat and resources used by an organism during its lifetime. Metamorphic species are likely to experience more dynamic selective pressures through ontogeny compared with species with single-phase life cycles, which may drive divergent evolutio...
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Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is shaped by multiple selective forces that drive the evolution of sex-specific body size, resulting in male or female-biased SSD. Stronger selection on one sex can result in an allometric body-size scaling relationship consistent with Rensch's rule or its converse. Anurans (frogs and toads) generally display female-bia...
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Evolutionary integration (covariation) of traits has long fascinated biologists because of its potential to elucidate factors that have shaped morphological evolution. Studies of tetrapod crania have identified patterns of evolutionary integration that reflect functional or developmental interactions among traits, but no studies to date have sample...
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The nearly 200 species of direct-developing frogs in the genus Eleutherodactylus (the Caribbean landfrogs, which include the coquís) comprise an important lineage for understanding the evolution and historical biogeography of the Caribbean. Time-calibrated molecular phylogenies provide indirect evidence for the processes that shaped the modern anur...
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Scheele et al. (Reports, 29 March 2019, p. 1459) bring needed attention to the effects of amphibian infectious disease. However, the data and methods implicating the disease chytridiomycosis in 501 amphibian species declines are deficient. Which species are affected, and how many, remains a critical unanswered question. Amphibians are imperiled; pr...
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Natural history collections (NHCs) are the foundation of historical baselines for assessing anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity. Along these lines, the online mobilization of specimens via digitization—the conversion of specimen data into accessible digital content—has greatly expanded the use of NHC collections across a diversity of disciplines....
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Synopsis Trophic interactions among fossorial vertebrates remain poorly explored in tropical ecosystems. While caecilian species can co-occur, whether and how sympatric species partition dietary or other resources are largely unknown. Based on specimens collected during field surveys in southern Cameroon, we conducted a dietary analysis of two co-o...
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The Florida peninsula in the southeastern United States hosts a rich fauna of frogs and toads (Order Anura) with nearly 30 native species representing five families. In addition to the present-day species, fossils of anurans are known from terrestrial deposits in Florida from the Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene, and Pleistocene (Table 1). These fossil...
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The Central African treefrog Leptopelis brevirostris has a characteristically short and vertically truncated snout, a tooth-like process at the centre of the mandible, and unlike most species of Leptopelis, eats terrestrial gastropods. Two morphologically similar species (L. crystallinoron and L. brevipes) have been described in sympatry with L. br...
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Biodiversity loss is one major outcome of human-mediated ecosystem disturbance. One way that humans have triggered wildlife declines is by transporting disease-causing agents to remote areas of the world. Amphibians have been hit particularly hard by disease due in part to a globally distributed pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobat...