Rafael Maia

Rafael Maia

Title: IB PhD Student
Dept/Program: Biology
Office: ASEC E502
Email: rm72@zips.uakron.edu

Research Accomplishments

I am broadly interested in how natural and sexual selection interact during the evolution of organisms, shaping the diversity of species and phenotypes. Animal coloration is a perfect system in which to study this, as it can influence how likely individuals are to survive, mate, or identify their own species. In particular, structural colors - produced by the arrangement at the nanoscale of different components of biological tissue - are fascinating in this respect, since a myriad of colors can be produced by simply rearranging the same component parts during development.


For my PhD research, I plan on approaching this scenario in two ways. First, how do these structures get organized and modified during development? By combining microscopy and molecular techniques, I hope to understand the ontogeny of these color-producing morphologies. Second, how can this developmental process be "twisted and tweaked" in an evolutionary context? Modern phylogenetic comparative methods can help  elucidate how labile these structures are, how morphological innovations can impact color diversity, and how this in turn can affect patterns of speciation and diversification.


Peer-reviewed journal publications:

Maia, R., Macedo, R.H., Shawkey, M.D. In Press. Nanostructural self-assembly of iridescent feather barbules through depletion attraction of melanosomes during keratinization. Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Shawkey, M.D, Maia, R., D’Alba, L. In Press. Proximate bases of silver color in Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) feathers. Journal of Morphology.

Maia, R., D’Alba, L., Shawkey, M.D. 2011. What makes a feather shine? A nanostructural basis for glossy black colours in feathers. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 278:1973-1980.

Maia, R. & Macedo, R.H. 2011. Achieving luster: prenuptial molt pattern predicts iridescent structural coloration in blue-black grassquits. Journal of Ornithology 152:243-252.

Lacava, R.V., Brasileiro, L., Maia, R., Oliveira, R.F. & Macedo, R.H. 2011. Social environment affects testosterone  in captive male blue-black grassquits. Hormones & Behavior 59:51-55.

Santos, E.S.A., Maia, R. & Macedo, R.H. 2009. Condition dependent resource-value affects male-male competition in the blue-black grassquit. Behavioral Ecology 20:553-559.

Maia, R., Caetano, J.V.O., Báo, S.N. & Macedo, R.H. 2009. Iridescent structural colour production in male blue-black grassquit feather barbules: the role of keratin and melanin. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 6:S203-S211.

Aguilar, T.M., Maia, R., Santos, E.S.A. & Macedo, R.H. 2008. Parasite levels in blue-black grassquits correlate with male displays but not female mate preference. Behavioral Ecology 19:292-301.

Dacier, A., Maia, R., Agustinho, D.P. & Barros, M. 2006. Rapid habituation of scan behavior in captive marmosets following brief predator encounters. Behavioural Processes 71:66-69.


Invited chapters:

Maia, R. & Alves, E.S.A. 2008. Tropical Bird Communities. In: Tropical Zoology, from Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), developed under the auspices of UNESCO (Macedo, R.H.F. & Morris, M.; Orgs.). Oxford, UK: EOLSS Publishers, 2008.

Dias, A., Maia, R. & Dias, R.I. 2008. Breeding Strategies of Tropical Birds. In: Tropical Zoology, from Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), developed under the auspices of UNESCO (Macedo, R.H.F. & Morris, M.; Orgs.). Oxford, UK: EOLSS Publishers, 2008.


MSc, Ecology, Universidade de Brasilia, 2008; BSc, Science Teaching, Universidade de Brasilia, 2007; BSc, Biological Sciences, Universidade de Brasilia, 2004