An explorer of biodiversity, Dr. David Blackburn studies the evolution and diversity of amphibians, especially frogs on continental Africa. Nearly 90% of the 6,800 known species of amphibians are frogs. Their diversity and distribution make them prime research subjects for investigating larger questions about the history and movement of life within Africa and the origins and evolution of natural variation. His research involves both extensive use of museum collections and field expeditions. His passion for the people and wildlife of Africa has taken him to diverse habitats in many African countries, most recently in the mountains of Burundi and soon to the desert oases of North Africa. Please join us in welcoming one of our newest curators as Dr. Blackburn joins us as an assistant curator on the herpetology team in the Academy’s research division."
David C. Blackburn
David C. Blackburn is Assistant Curator of Herpetology research at the California Academy of Sciences.
Blackburn's research include deep-time historical biogeography and phylogeography of continental Africa, with study of biodiversity in diverse habitats including mountains, tropical forests, and Saharan oases; evolution of morphological diversity in amphibians, including morphological novelty, developmental and functional morphology, and patterns of ecomorphological change; and systematics of frogs from sub-Saharan Africa, with descriptions of new species and estimation of phylogenetic relationships using molecular and morphological data.
Any member of a class (Amphibia) of cold-blooded vertebrate animals that includes more than 6,200 species in three groups: frogs and toads (order Anura), salamanders (order Caudata), and caecilians (order Gymnophiona). Probably evolved from certain fish species of the Early Devonian Period (416397 million years ago), amphibians were the first vertebrates to move from an aquatic environment to land. Most species have an aquatic larval, or tadpole, stage that metamorphoses into a terrestrial adult, but a few species spend their entire life in water. Amphibians are found worldwide, the majority in the tropics.