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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

Mynssen, C. M., A. Vasco, R. C. Moran, L. S. Sylvestre & G. Rouhan. 2016. Desmophlebiaceae and Desmophlebium: a new family and genus of Eupolypods II ferns. Taxon 65: 19–34.

Vasco, A., J. Lóriga, G. Rouhan, B. A. Ambrose & R. C. Moran. 2015. Divided leaves in the genus Elaphoglossum (Dryopteridaceae): a phylogeny of Elaphoglossum section Squamipedia. Systematic Botany 40(1): 46–55.

Moran, R. C., P. Labiak, J. Garrison Hanks & J. Prado. 2014. The phylogenetic relationships of Tectaria brauniana and T. nicotianifolia, and the recognition of Hypoderris (Tectariaceae). Systematic Botany 39(2): 384–395.

Moran, R. C. & P. Labiak. 2015. Phylogeny of the polybotryoid fern clade (Dryopteridaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 176(9): 880–891.

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. [doi:10.3389/fpls.2013.00345]

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.