Projects

The Herbarium has been home for various projects:

El Verde Virtual Flora – Fabiola Areces, V. Vega, K. Bonefont, and J. D. Ackerman, a project funded by the University of Puerto Rico (Fondo Institucional para Investigaciones) and the NSF-CREST program run through the Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation to create an online resource for the identification of vascular plants of the UPRRP’s El Verde Field Station in the El Yunque National Forest.  The searchable website (http:floraelverde.catec.upr.edu) is constantly being updated and expanded.  An annotated checklist has just been published and is available from the authors: Areces Berazain, F., V. J. Vega and J. D. Ackerman.  2014.  Annotated list of the vascular plants at El Verde Field Station, El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico.  Caribbean Naturalist 16: 1-51.

Orchid Flora of the Greater Antilles – James D. Ackerman and collaborators, an illustrated monographic flora of the region representing nearly 600 species.  This has been published in 2014 as volume 109 of the Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden and is available through the New York Botanical Garden Press and various outlets including Amazon.  We are constantly updating the flora and will publish updates periodically.

Invasive Species of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Hawai'i and MauritiusJames D. Ackerman and R. L. Tremblay, a project initially focused on naturalized and expanding populations of orchids. Assisted by ex-students Wilnelia Recart, Wilfredo Falcon, Jonathan Molinari and others. We have just finished publishing a trilogy of papers on the consequences of interspecific interactions involved in the invasion of Spathoglottis plicata. These papers are available from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Ackerman.

While orchid work continues with Arundina graminifolia, Oeceoclades maculata and Dendrobium crumentatum, we have been working on the Honduran pine invasion in Puerto Rico with Wilnelia, Wilfredo, Jonathan, along with numerous undergraduate field assistants.  Both projects have been Funded by NSF-CREST-CATEC.

After JIm, Raymond, Julissa Rojas-Sandoval and Elix Hernández published investigations into biotic resistance and the drivers of plant invasions in Puerto Rico (available from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Ackerman), Jim, Julissa, and Raymond have begun a project  to reveal the drivers of native and invasive species diversity among islands of the Lesser Antilles.

Pollination Networks of Fragile, Naturally Disturbed Habitats: Stability Under Unstable Conditions? — James Ackerman and Casts of Thousands. Tropical beach dune systems are among the most naturally unstable terrestrial habitats.  The flowering plants that occupy these dunes are specialized in the sense that they must be tolerant of salt, be able to exploit ephemeral water supplies, and cope with shifting substrates.  Their pollinators must be specialized as well, or be able to commute from more stable habitats to forage in the dunes.  Are the networks of plant-pollinator interactions in the dunes nested and modular as they are in more stable habitats, or does the natural instability demand loose niches and generalized interactions?

For the last few years, undergraduate and graduate students have been making observations of floral visitors, collecting plant and animal vouchers along beaches of Puerto Rico and Vieques.  The data are still arriving and the analyses have yet to be completed.  But we do know that there is a lot of variation in plant and animal species richness among beaches.  One of the most diverse areas in both plants and insect pollinators are the dunes of Piñones.  Thus far, everywhere we go, nearly all floral visitors are either Hymenoptera (bees and wasps) or Lepidoptera (butterflies).

A Systematic Vademecum to the Vascular Plants of Puerto Rico – Franklin Axelrod, a synoptic flora of the vascular plants that can be presently found on the island of Puerto Rico and its adjacent islands.  Published in 2011, Frank is constantly updating the text, with corrections posted on this website (click here for updates).

Systematics and biogeography of Thespesia (Malvaceae)Fabiola Areces, an explanation of the role of long-distance marine dispersal in the distribution and diversification of the Thespesia genus.  The first paper from this project is also available here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Ackerman

Catalogue of Seed Plants of the West Indies: Orchidaceae – James D. Ackerman, a contribution to P. Acevedo-Rodriguez and M. T. Strong’s West Indies 2012 checklist.  Now available online and in print from the Smithsonian click here for PDF.

Flora of Saint Lucia – Roger Graveson, the Herbarium currently holds voucher specimens of his work on the flora of Saint Lucia.  See www.saintlucianplants.com

St Eustatius and Saba FlorasFranklin Axelrod, in cooperation with St. Eustatius National Parks (Stenapa) and the help of Hannah Madden of Stenapa, has completed an annotated checklist of vascular plants of St. Eustatius, which has been funded by NSF-CREST-CATEC.  Frank is currently doing the same for Saba, in cooperation with the Saba Conservation Foundation with funding from the Dutch.

Population Viability of Brassavola cucullata (Orchidaceae) Raymond Tremblay and J. D. Ackerman, Hannah Madden, Michael Bechtold and Michiel Boeken have worked together for a number of years on this project.  We are in the final stages of data analyses and manuscript preparation and hope to have this study published in 2017. Formerly funded by NSF-CREST.