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Robbin C. Moran

Nathaniel Lord Britton Curator of Botany, Institute of Systematic Botany

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois, 1986


Pteridophytes (Ferns and related groups)


Ferns and lycophytes

Research locations

Costa Rica, neotropics, North America


My main research interests are ferns. I work primarily in the American tropics, especially Central America and the Andes. Much of my research has involved writing floras and monographs, which assemble information about ferns of a given region and provide a means to identify them. 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 currently have a grant from the United States National Science Foundation (with Dr. Barbara Ambrose as Co-PI) to study the taxonomy, phylogeny, and leaf evolution of Elaphoglossum sect. Squamipedia, a neotropical fern genus of about 20 species.

Besides research, I teach. I co-organize a five-week-long course, Tropical Plant Systematics, in Costa Rica for the Organization of Tropical Studies. The course is taught even years in English and odd years in Spanish. Occasionally I teach short, two- to three-week-long fern courses in Latin America (in Spanish). Every three or four years I teach a full-semester, graduate-level course in the study of ferns at The New York Botanical Garden. I currently have a doctoral student, Fernando Matos, who is working on a monograph of Elaphoglossum sect. Polytrichium.

I also interpret ferns to the public. I am the President of the New York Chapter Fern Society, which meets the first Saturday of every month at the Garden. Finally, I serve as Associate Editor for Brittonia, the Garden’s journal of systematic botany, and for the American Fern Journal.

Selected Publications

Labiak, P. & R. C. Moran. 2018. Phylogeny of Campyloneurum (Polypodiaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 179(1): 36–49.

Prado, J., R. Y. Hirai & R. C. Moran. 2017. Fern and lycophyte flora of Acre State, Brazil. Biota Neotropica 17(4): [1–59]. e20170369.

Moran, R. C. 2017. Division Polypodiopsida, Ferns. Online edition. R. F. C. Naczi, J. R. Abbott, and Collaborators, New Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, compiled in 2016, 2017. NYBG Press, New York. [76 pp; available on-line only; 20 families, 49 genera, 106 spp]

Herrera, F., R. C. Moran, G. Shi, N. Ichinnorov, M. Takahashi, P. R. Crane & P. S. Herendeen. 2017. An exquisitely preserved filmy fern (Hymenophyllaceae) from the Early Cretaceous of Mongolia, American Journal of Botany 104(9): 1–12.

Vasco, A., B. Ambrose & R. C. Moran. 2013. The morphology, evolution and development of fern leaves. Frontiers in Plant Science 4: article 345, pages 1–16.

Moran, R. C., P. Labiak & M. Sundue. 2010. Phylogeny and character evolution in bolbitidoid ferns (Dryopteridaceae). International Journal of Plant Science 171: 547–559.

Moran, R. C. 2004. A Natural History of Ferns. Timber Press. 301pp.