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Robbin C. Moran

Curator Emeritus, 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


I study ferns and lycophytes, mostly in the American tropics, and especially in Central America and the Andes. I am interested in what the species of ferns and lycophytes are and where they occur—something often poorly known for tropical species—and the evolutionary relationships among the species. I collaborate with other pteridologists (students of ferns) to generate phylogenetic trees based on DNA sequences that show how the species are related. I use the trees as a framework for answering questions about character evolution, biogeography, and the evolutionary process itself.

Besides research, I teach. I co-organize a five-week-long graduate-level course, Tropical Plant Systematics, in Costa Rica for the Organization of Tropical Studies. The course is taught in even years in English, and odd years in Spanish. I teach another course in Costa Rica, only three weeks long, called Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes.

Currently, I have a three-year grant from the United States National Science Foundation (with Kimberly Watson) to digitize and image the approximately 250,000 specimens of ferns and lycophytes in the Garden’s herbarium.

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.

Finally, I serve as Associate Editor for both Brittonia, the Garden’s journal of systematic botany, and the American Fern Journal.

Selected Publications

Moran, R. C. & J. Garrison Hanks & M. Sundue. 2019 (in press). Phylogenetic relationships of Neotropical lady ferns (Athyriaceae), with a description of Ephemeropteris, Gen. Nov. Taxon 68: 000–000.

Moran, R. C., J. Garrison Hanks & P. H. Labiak. 2018. Evolution of spore morphology in the Blechnaceae. International Journal of Plant Sciences 179: 712–729.

Moran, R. C. & P. H. Labiak. 2018. Notes on three species of Campyloneurum (Polypodiaceae) from Costa Rica and Panama. Brittonia 70: 383–393.

Moran, R. C. & M. H. Grayum. 2018. The hybrid nature of Danaea plicata (Marattiaceae). Brittonia 70: 31–39.

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

Kessler, M., A. R. Smith, F. B. Matos & R. C. Moran. 2018. Dryopteridaceae. Prodromus of a Flora for Bolivia. XXXV. Dryopteridaceae. Phytotaxa 334: 1–114.