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
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.
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.