Robert Anthony Villa

Research Associate

Robert Anthony Villa

Research Associate

I’m a proud Spanish-speaking Tucsonan deeply in love with the Sonoran region—studying, exploring, and documenting it’s biological and cultural diversity (often with violin in tow) most of my 33 years (2019). I’m interested in the intersection of natural and cultural history, specializing in amphibians, reptiles, plants/horticulture, ethnoecology, and regional gastronomy.

I’ve consulted for and assisted in the production of literature and video in the Sonoran region, and published in academic and popular outlets. I currently preside Tucson Herpetological Society, assist with ongoing developments at the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, am a member of NextGen Sonoran Desert Researchers, and grow plants (the result of an unexpected apprenticeship and friendship under the tutelage of renowned plantsman and ecologist Mark A. Dimmitt in 2011).

I consider myself a follower in the footsteps of Sonoran naturalist explorers such as Howard Scott Gentry, Paul Martin, Charles Lowe, Tom Van Devender, Mark Dimmitt, and others, documenting and espousing the land where north and south embrace.


Tortuga de la Sierra Madre


Notes from the Field


A Natural History of the Sonoran Desert, 2nd revised edition

Editor of the herpetology sections


The Night Flower, by Lara Hawthorne

Children’s book on the ecology of the Saguaro


Film animal handler/scientific consultant/fixer

BBC Television, National Geographic TV, NHK World, Vice, and others.


Green Planet Series (BBC)

Desert plants section (sand dunes of the Gran Desierto de Altar)


The Psychedelic Toad (Vice)

Episode 1, Season 2, Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia


Ethno-herpetology of the Sonoran Desert Toad


The Best of Saguaro National Park (National Geographic TV)

Animal handler for staged sequences, scientific consultant, and field guide resulting in the filming of spring emergence, courtship, and male combat wild Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnakes.

Research - Gran Desierto Paleohistory Research - Tumamoc Hill Researchers and Staff