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My research is collaborative, integrative, and covers a wide-range of subjects, such as hypothesis-testing on the origin of species and trait diversity, phylogenetic inference, taxonomy, biogeography, natural history, and conservation. 

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Taxonomy and systematics are the foundation of all biological sciences, and a proper understanding of the natural world is necessarily linked to the advance of knowledge in classification and the discovery/description of biodiversity. One of the crucial elements of my research program is a continuous effort to conduct revisionary taxonomic work  and the integrative use of genetic and phenotypic data to search for cryptic diversity within broadly distributed taxa . My current taxonomic work is focused primarily on Neotropical frogs with occasional contributions in other vertebrate groups, such as squamate reptiles (especially lizards in the Gymnophthalmidae family), fish, birds and insects. Throughout my career I have participated in large expeditions to remote sites, which resulted in the collection of thousands of specimens and associated data (e.g., tissue samples, audiovisual material). These expeditions have also resulted in the. discovery of dozens of new species of animals, many of which I have named or helped named throughout the years.




My keen interest in phylogenetics sparked projects and collaborations to solve long standing problems in amphibian systematics, spanning from revisionary work on species complexes to broader work on whole genera or families. I am broadly interested in practical and conceptual issues associated with phylogenetic inference of large and complex datasets, which often include the combination of genetic and phenotypic characters. In addition to search for cryptic diversity within broadly distributed taxa and phylogeny-based comparative studies, I am also broadly interested in practical and conceptual issues associated with phylogenetic inference. For example, I have used empirical analyses of data from amphibians and reptiles to investigate how phylogenetic inference is influenced by the nuances of taxon and character sampling.

I am particularly interested in understanding how landscape evolution and the appearance of key morphological or behavioral traits have shaped diversification in amphibians. The question of how animals and plants have repeatedly “conquered” terrestrial environments has puzzled biologists for centuries. Amphibians are widely known for a stereotyped dependence on water for reproduction (aquatic eggs and tadpoles). However, many lineages evolved some independence from water bodies, culminating in total liberty from an aquatic environment for breeding and development (i.e., terrestrial eggs and no larval phase). Concomitant to the adaptations in reproductive biology are morphological adaptations to their lifestyle, such as loss of bones (due to miniaturization), multiple appearances of finger disks and bone elongation (for arboreality), and development of vertebral crests (possibly related to fossoriality). I have long been interested in investigating correlations between phylogeny, reproductive mode evolution and morphology in amphibians.


One example of long-term commitment to amphibian biology is my continuous work with Microhylidae, one of the largest and most diverse families of frogs, broadly distributed in the Tropics. I first named a new species in this group in 2008, while in graduate school (MSc). I then developed my PhD thesis with microhylids, where I addressed questions in phylogenetic systematics, biogeography and trait evolution, especially those traits linked to specialization towards a fossorial habit, and the impressive diversity of reproductive modes in the family. Through my work with microhylids, I spearheaded taxonomic reviews of the two largest genera of Neotropical microhylids (Chiasmocleis and Elachistocleis, the latter led by a PhD student), collaborated on evolution and taxonomic studies in the subfamily Otophyninae, and contributed data and intellectual input on a phylogenomic study of the whole Amphibia.

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I have long been interested in conservation biology and aware of how it is interlinked with field biology and taxonomy. Back in 2010 I published an essay about the conservation of amphibians in the Brazilian Amazonia. Back then, taxonomic knowledge on Amazonian amphibians was a lot more incipient, and this reflected in the fact that very few (only three) amphibians were considered threatened with extinction. At the occasion, I highlighted the importance of concentrated efforts in taxonomy to promote a better overview of conservation status of amphibian populations:


“We cannot assess the true status of conservation of the amphibian biota in Amazonia
with our current taxonomic and biogeographic knowledge fir this mysterious, yet fascinating region”

(Peloso 2010, Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia.)

 Since then, dozens of new amphibians were described and named in Amazonia. Moreover, Biogeographic and natural history knowledge within the region advanced enormously. Consequentially, a lot more taxa have been properly evaluated and multiple species are now considered threatened with extinction, including potential cases of actual extinction. My experience with this topic is very personal—three of the species I discovered and named, after that 2010 article was published, were considered threatened with extinction (two from Amazonia, and one, from the Atlantic Rainforest. Over the years I felt more and more compelled to get involved with hands-on/action-based conservation.

The Restinga Toadled (Melanophryniscus setiba).

Discovered in 2005, named in 2012, and now considered Critically Endangered with Extinction.

In 2018 I founded the ‘Documenting Threatened Species’ project (DoTS,, together with conservation geneticist Gui Becker (Penn State University) and conservationist Ibere Machado (IUCN’s Amphibian Specialist Group Brazil). DoTS is a bold initiative to study, document and generate awareness about endangered species in Brazil. It’s first phase focused on highly endangered amphibian species and was highlighted over multiple media channels (e.g., National Geographic and BBC), consequently introducing several of these extremely rare species to a global audience. Our team collected images, natural history data, and skin swab samples from threatened taxa we found over the course of seven expeditions across Brazilian biomes. This work will provide the first screening of the frog killing fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in natural populations of multiple endangered species. 


As additional examples of my involvement in spearheading conservation initiatives, I am the Director of Strategic Planning for a Brazilian non-profit (Instituto Boitatá) and member of the Atelopus Survival Initiative (ASI). I also collaborate with the International Conservation Fund of Canada in one of their flagship programs, the Kayapó Project,


Atelopus Survival Initiative

Instituto Boitatá focuses on conservation and education, and we develop hands-on field-based projects, and education initiatives in schools and public parks throughout Brazil.


On the other hand ASI is a collaborative effort of individuals and institutions from different countries dedicated to the conservation of Harlequin Toads (genus Atelopus). Atelopus are among the most endangered groups of vertebrates in the World, over 75% of its species threatened with extinction, with at least 40 species have not been seen since the early 2000 (although only four are considered formally extinct). As a member of ASI, I helped secure funding from National Geographic Society that will allow a large group of scientists, artists, and storytellers to meet in the field in Colombia to discuss and develop conservation strategies for Harlequin Toads.

The Kayapo Project focuses in empowering the Kayapo indigenous people of Amazonian Brazil to continue to protect over nine million hectares of their lands. Within the project, I co-teach an international field course hosted by a mixture of Brazilian, Canadian and U.S. partners, and conducted inside Kayapo territory (see details on Teaching Statement).


My involvement in conservation is rapidly expanding, and with each new accomplishment and partnership I feel even more eager to pursue a career in the field. The opportunity to be on a tenure track position in conservation biology is, therefore, a very welcomed challenge.

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