Laboratory for Integrative Biology





James Ackerman




James D. Ackerman, Ph.D.
Florida State University (1981)
office: FB 233 or at the UPRRP Herbarium
tel.: (787) 550-7165
Research Gate Profile

Research Interests

My primary interests rest with questions pertaining to the evolution and maintenance of orchid diversity. This journey has lead to a series of papers on the relationship between orchids and euglossine bees, the evolution and mechanisms of deception pollination, specificity in orchid-mycorrhizal associations, genetic structure of orchid populations, taxonomy of Caribbean orchids, the biogeography of the West Indies and Orchidaceae, land use history and the local distribution of native species, demography of small populations, and most recently the ecology of naturalized orchids. We are currently studying the reproductive biology and population dynamics of invasive, non-native orchids such as Dendrobium crumenatum, Arundina graminifolia and Spathoglottis plicata, and how they may affect populations of native species. In addition, we have begun a study on the invasion biology of non-native pines in Puerto Rico, and pollination networks of naturally unstable beach dune vegetation.

The issues I address span taxonomy, evolution, ecology, conservation, and environmental science which means that virtually none of my work has been done without the collaborative efforts of my undergraduate and graduate students, and colleagues within the UPR system and elsewhere.

Although my passion is directed towards the biology of orchids, I encourage my students to work on systems that create passion in their hearts. Some have studied orchids, but others have worked on quite different model systems including Bignoniaceae, Bromeliaceae, Cactaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Fabaceae, Malvaceae, Myrsinaceae, Pinaceae, Zamiaceae, karst vegetation, plant viruses, rust diseases, invasive species biology, and floral fragrances, all asking a variety of ecological and evolutionary questions employing a marvelous array of approaches and tools.

Over the years, I have made a concerted effort to develop the UPRRP herbarium into a dynamic, well-equipped facility that specializes on the Caribbean flora and offers a plethora of services to academic and non-academic communities. Check other pages of our website to see what herbarium projects are in the works.

Recently, I have become the Director of the UPRRP Zoology Museum.  We are also making great strides to bring the collection up to modern standards by databasing and reorganizing the collection, curating the specimens, and upgrading the facilities.  Visit our website,, and our facebook page at

Selected References