Robbin C. Moran

My main interests are the systematics, ecology, and geography of ferns.  I work primarily on ferns from the American tropics, especially those from the Central American and Andean countries. In these regions, ferns are prominent in the vegetation, usually composing about 10% of the total vascular plant flora.

Much of my systematic research has involved writing floras and monographs. I was the main writer, editor, and organizer for the pteridophyte volume of Flora Mesoamericana, a book that covers the pteridophytes from southern Mexico to Panama. This book is the largest fern flora ever written (it treats the nearly 1400 species). I have also published taxonomic monographs of six fern genera (Polybotrya, Olfersia, Stigmatopteris, and Asplenium sect. Hymenasplenium, and the neotropical species of Lomariopsis and Callipteris).

I am currently collaborating with John Mickel (my predecessor at the Garden) and Timothy Motley on a phylogenetic study of Elaphoglossum, one of the world's largest fern genera. I am also collaborating with John Mickel on a guide to 300 common fern species in the American tropics and a manual to the pteridophyte genera of the Americas. I also collaborate with Drs. Hanna Tuomisto and Kalle Rukoleinen, from the University of Turku, Finland, and Axel Poulsen, from Aarhus University, Denmark. We are using color-enhanced satellite images to study the heterogeneity of vegetation in Amazonian Ecuador and trying to relate this to differences in the fern flora.

Besides research, I teach. I co-organize a six-week-long course, Tropical Plant Systematics, in Costa Rica for the Organization of Tropical Studies (both English and Spanish versions of the course). From time to time I also teach (in Spanish) short, two- to three-week-long pteridology courses in Latin America -- so far in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Costa Rica -- and I have written a bilingual manual to the genera of neotropical ferns to teach this course with. Every three or four years I teach a full-semester, graduate-level course in pteridology at The New York Botanical Garden.

I also interpret ferns to the public. I am the Program Chairman of the New York Chapter of the American Fern Society, which meets the first Saturday of every month at the Garden, and I write two or three articles each year for the Fiddlehead Forum, the popular bulletin of the American Fern Society.

Finally, I serve as Associate Editor to the American Fern Journal and Brittonia.

  • CURATOR, Institute of Systematic Botany.
  • Born 1956.
  • Field Botanist, Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (summers of 1976 and 1977).
  • Field Botanist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Scientific Areas Section (summers of 1978-1980).
  • M.S., University of Illinois at Carbondale (1980).
  • Field Botanist, Illinois Natural History Survey (1981).
  • Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1986).
  • Assistant Curator, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis (1987-1993).
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Systematic Botany, Aarhus University, Denmark (1993-1996).
  • Associate Professor, Biology Dept., Univ. of Arkansas at Little Rock (1996-1997).
  • Associate Curator, The New York Botanical Garden (1998-2001 ).
  • Curator, The New York Botanical Garden (2001-present).

E-mail address:

Selected Publications