Dr. Rafael O. de Sa
Professor of Biology

The overall research framework in our lab is on evolutionary biology of anurans. Within this framework we have active research projects on molecular and morphological phylogenetic, systematics, taxonomy, and development. Our lab maintains active collaborations that involved reciprocal research visits with colleagues in the US as well as with several labs in South America, Europe, and Africa. These collaborations provide unique academic as well as cultural exchange opportunities.

In addition to the anuran research program, we are also collaborating with colleagues at the University of Uruguay on understanding the evolutionary biology of annual fishes.

Current Lab Members

Drew Braet
Travis Cuddy
Hanna Moreland

Grants and Fellowships

Building conservation capacity for a changing Amazonia.” PI: David Salisbury (UR), CO-PIs: M. Finley-Brook (UR), R.O. de Sá (UR), and P. Smallwood (UR). 2013-2015. HED-USAID

Grants: National Science Council of Spain, "Genetic and Bioacoustic Characterization of Endemic Threatened Species in a Biodiversity Hotspot: The Amphibians of the Tropical Andes."

Revision of the poorly known frog genus Chiasmocleis (Anura, Microhylidae). National Science Foundation.  Initiated in 2012.

Using sequencing in undergraduate research. 2004. LI-Cor Genomics Education Matching Funds Program.

Diversity beyond morphology: A revision of the frog genus Leptodactylus (Amphibia, Anura, Leptodactylidae). 2004-2008. National Science Foundation.

Bringing Evolution into the curriculum for non-science majors at the University of Richmond. 2004. Association of Colleges of the South.

Evolutionary relationships within the Neotropical genus Leptodactylus. 2000-2004 National Science Foundation.

A molecular phylogeny of the frog genus Leptodactylus. 1998-2000. Thomas F. Jeffress and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust.

Timing of musculoskeletal development: A 3-dimensional approach to the analysis of form. 1995-1998 National Science Foundation.

Molecular Evolution: Integration of Theory and Practice. 1994-1996 National Science Foundation.
Distinguished Educator, University of Richmond. 1998
Distinguished Visiting Professor. National Museum of Natural History, Paris. 2007
Fulbright Distinguished Chair. University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 2013-2014.
Selected Publications

Larson*, P. and R. O. de Sá.  1998. Chondrocranial morphology of Leptodactylus larvae (Leptodactylidae: Leptodactylinae): its utility in phylogenetic reconstruction.  Journal of Morphology 238:287-305.

* denotes student author

de Sá, R. O. and C. Swart*. 1999. Development of the suprarostral plate of pipoid frogs. Journal of Morphology 240:143-153.

* denotes student author

Camargo*, A., de Sá, R. O. and W.R. Heyer.  2006. Phylogenetic analyses of mtDNA sequences reveal three cryptic lineages in the widespread neotropical frog Leptodactylus fuscus (Schneider, 1799) (Anura, Leptodactylidae).  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 87: 325-341.

* denotes student author

de Sá, R., W.R. Heyer, and A. Camargo*. 2005. A phylogenetic analysis of Vanzolinius (Amphibia, Anura, Leptodactylidae): Taxonomic and life histroy implications. Arquivos do Museu de Historia Natural do Rio de Janeiro, 63(4):1-20.

*denotes student author

Frost, D., R., T. Grant, J. Faivovich, R. H. Bain, A. Haas, C. F.B. Haddad, R. O. de Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S.C. Donnellan, C. J. Raxworthy, J. A. Campbell, B. L. Blotto, P. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. A. Nussbaum, J. D. Lynch, D. M. Green, and W. C. Wheeler. 2006. The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 297:1-370, +71 figs, 5 tbls, 7 Append.

Yanek*, K., W.R. Heyer, and R. O de Sá. 2006. Genetic resolution of the enigmatic Lesser Antillean distribution of the frog Leptodactylus validus (Anura, Leptodactylidae). South American Journal of Herpetology 1(3):192-201.

* denotes student author

Greenbaum, E., E.N. Smith, R.O. de Sá. 2011. Molecular systematics of the Middle American genus Hypopachus (Anura: Microhylidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 61:265-277.
Heyer, W.R. and R. O. de Sá. 2011. Variation, Systematics, and Relationships of the Leptodactylus bolivianus Complex (Amphibia: Anura: Leptodactylidae). Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology, 635:1-58.
Streicher, J. W., Cox, C. L., Campbell, J.A., Smith, E. N., and de Sá, R. O. 2012 Rapid range expansion in the Great Plains narrow-mouthed toad (Gastrophryne olivacea) and a revised taxonomy for North American microhylids. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 64(2012):645-653.

de Sá, R.O., Streicher, J.W., Sekonyela R*., Forlani, M.C.*, Loader, S.P., Greenbaum, E., Richards, S., and Haddad, C.F.B. 2012. Molecular phylogeny of microhylid frogs (Anura: Microhylidae) with emphasis on relationships among New World genera. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2012 (241):1-40.

* denotes student author

Forlani*, M.C., Vinicius, C., Dias, I.R., Ruas, D., Tonini*, J.F.R., de Sá, R.O.  2013. The advertisement calls and distribution records of two sympatric species of Chiasmocleis (Méhely 1904) (Anura, Microhylidae) from the Atlantic forest. South American Journal of Herpetology 8(1):46-51.

* denotes student author

Do Nascimento*,.F. A. C., Mott, T., Langone, J. A., Davies, C. A., and de Sá, R. O. 2013. Chondrocranium and tadpole oral cavity of four Odontophrynus species (Anura, Odontophrynidae) with a review of the larval external morphology of the genus. Zootaxa 3700 (1):140-158.

* denotes student author

Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin 1991
M.Sc., The University of Kansas 1987
B.Sc., University of Uruguay
Contact Information
B115 Gottwald Science Center
(804) 289-8542
(804) 289-8233 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity
Phylogenetic, Systematics, and Taxonomy
Developmental Biology