California Academy of Sciences - To Explore, Explain, and Protect the Natural World

Robert C. Drewes

Curator and Chairman
Department of Herpetology

B. A. San Francisco State University (1969); Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles (1981). Assistant Director, Nairobi Snake Park, National Museums of Kenya (1969-70); Senior Curatorial Assistant, advancing in rank to Curator (1970-present); NSF Visiting Scholar, Harvard University (1983), University of Kansas (1984); Research Associate, National Museums of Kenya (1970- ); Research Associate, University of the Western Cape, South Africa (1996- ). Research Professor of Biology, San Francisco State University; Affiliate Professor of Biology, University of Idaho; Fellow, Royal Geographical Society, California Academy of Sciences, California Institute of International Studies (Stanford University 1989- ); National CITES Standing Committee, Kenya Wildlife Service, Board of Directors, Biodiversity Foundation for Africa (Zimbabwe) .

My research interests and goals are heavily influenced by an abiding fascination with the ancient continent of Africa, where there are lifetimes of unanswered questions and where I conduct virtually all of my field work. I have spent over 40 field months in 30 different African countries since 1969.

My basic training is in systematics and earlier work includes a major generic revision of the Hyperoliidae, the dominant treefrog of Africa, the Seychelles and Madagascar. I use all repeatable information available including morphological, bioacoustical, behavioral and molecular data to assess evolutionary relationships based on the principles of phylogenetic systematics.

I am also very interested in the comparative physiology of frogs adapted for life in arid environments. During the past 20 years we have learned that a surprising number of frogs exhibit very low rates of evaporative water loss and can tolerate extremely high temperatures; some even excrete uric acid in the manner of birds and reptiles. Several of these frogs are African, and I am trying to understand the processes involved in these adaptations, especially the mechanism responsible for the animals' impermeable skin. In recent years my experiences in the African bush have led me to pursue ecological and behavioral projects as well.

Drewes, R.C., S. S. Hillman, R. W. Putnam & O. Sokol. 1977. Water, nitrogen and ion balance in the desert treefrog Chiromantis petersi Boulenger (Anura: Rhacophoridae) with comments on the structure of the integument. J. Comp. Physiol. 116(39): 257-267.(

Drewes, R.C. 1984. A phylogenetic analysis of the Hyperoliidae (Anura): treefrogs of Africa, Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands. Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 139: 1- 70.

Drewes, R. C. 1985. A case of paraphyly in the genus Kassina Girard, 1853. S. Afr. J. Sci. 81(4): 186- 191.

Drewes, R. C. & J. V. Vindum. 1994. Amphibians of the Impenetrable Forest, southwest Uganda. J. Afr. Zool. 108:55-70.

Drewes, R. C. & R. Altig. 1996. Anuran egg predation and heterocannibalism in a breeding community of East African frogs. Trop. Zool. 9:333-347.

Drewes, R. C. 1997. A new species of treefrog from the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania (Anura: Hyperoliidae: Hyperolius). Proc. Calif. Acad. Sci. 49: 439-446.

Wieczorek, A. M., A. Channing & R. C. Drewes. 1998. A review of the taxonomy of the Hyperolius viridiflavus complex. Herp. J. 8:29-34.

Drewes, R. C., Wilkinson, J. A. 2004. The California Academy of Sciences
Gulf of Guinea Expedition (2001) I. The Taxonomic Status of the Genus Nesionixalus Perret, 1976 (Anura: Hyperoliidae), Treefrogs of São Tomé and Príncipe, with Comments on the Genus Hyperolius. ( [158 KB PDF]


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