Brian M. Boom

Director, Caribbean Biodiversity Program, and Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany, The New York Botanical Garden

Ph.D., City University of New York
New York, NY (1983)
"A Revision of Isertia (Isertieae: Rubiaceae)"
Expertise: Neotropical systematic and economic botany; Rubiaceae; forest inventories


My research has been divided almost equally among projects concerning systematic botany, economic botany, and forest inventories. The projects are united by their geographic focus within neotropical forests and by their thematic focus on botanical diversity sensu lato, including the diverse relationships with plants that people have who live in neotropical forests.

I have published on several groups of vascular plants (e.g., Isoetaceae, Gentianaceae, Theaceae, etc.), but most of my systematics research has centered on the Rubiaceae, the coffee family, including a revision of the genus Isertia, floristic accounts of the family at important biodiversity research sites in Amazonian Brazil (Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project) and in French Guiana (Saül), and descriptions of new species. I have led or participated in forest inventories of trees in Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, Bolivia, Guyana, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. In conjunction with several of these forest inventories, I have conducted ethnobotanical studies in which I have quantified the use of plants by local indigenous people (e.g., the Chácobo of Amazonian Bolivia and the Panare of the Venezuelan Guayana).

I have been involved in several efforts within the United States as well as internationally to promote the importance of natural science collections in addressing societal problems, ranging from invasive species to human health to global climate change. I have served in leadership roles of various professional societies (e.g., President, Natural Science Collections Alliance, 1999-2001; President, Society for Economic Botany, 2001-2002). I am currently the President of the Torrey Botanical Society, the oldest botanical society in the United States, the objectives of which are to promote interest in botany, and to collect and disseminate information on all phases of plant science.

As Director of the Caribbean Biodiversity Program, I am responsible for the creation, operation, and management of the institution's botanical research and conservation initiatives in the Caribbean. For information about the Program, its projects, specimen catalogs, and links to Caribbean biodiversity resources, please consult the Garden's Caribbean Biodiversity Portal.

Selected Publications

Mori, S.A., B.M. Boom, A.M. De Carvalho, and T.S. Dos Santos. 1983. Southern Bahian moist forests. Botanical Review 49(2): 155-232.

Boom, B.M. 1986. A forest inventory in Amazonian Bolivia. Biotropica 18: 287-294.

Prance, G.T., W. Balee, B.M. Boom, and R. Carneiro. 1987. Quantitative ethnobotany and the case for conservation in Amazonia. Conservation Biology 1(4): 296-310.

> More Publications