McAllister Chair, Chairman
and Senior Curator
Department of Botany
A.B. University of South Florida (1968); Ph.D.
Duke University (1975). Assistant Professor, University of California,
Los Angeles (1975-78). Associate Curator, California Academy of Sciences
(1978-85). Director of Research (1983-86); Senior Curator (1985-); Editorial
Board, Systematic Botany Monographs (1979-81). Corresponding Secretary.
California Botanical Society (1979-82). President, California Botanical
Society (1986-87). Jesse M. Greenman Award of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Alumni Association. Fellow, California Academy of Sciences. Member, American
Society of Plant Taxonomists; Organization for Tropical Studies; Sigma
My research on flowering plants involves assessing relationships, deducing
evolutionary trends, and elucidating the functional significance of floral
structures in relation to pollination. My current studies center on the
Princess Flowers (Melastomataceae), a worldwide family of tropical plants
related to the evening primroses and the family that includes Eucalyptus,
Bottlebrush, and guavas. These studies have taken me to the coastal marshes
and montane cloud forests of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies,
the cerrado and gallery forests of central Brazil, and the paramo habitats
above treeline in the Andes of Ecuador and Venezuela. I combine field
work and laboratory analysis in the following investigations:
1. Pollination studies. The methods by which pollen grains reach a stigma
involve fascinating reciprocal adaptations of flowers and the animals
that pollinate them. Species of Melastomataceae that offer pollen, floral
oils, and fragrances as rewards to attract pollinators seem adapted for
pollination by various species of bees, whereas the rarer nectar-producing
species are visited by hummingbirds, bats, and rats.
2. SEM studies of reproductive characters. My applications of scanning
electron microscopy to the study of Melastomataceae pollen and seed morphology
provide a wealth of data on the diversification of micromorphological
features. Seed morphology, in particular, is a conservative character
that provides a sound basis for assessing generic and tribal relationships.
3. Chromosomal cytology. Information on chromosome numbers has only
recently begun to be used in systematic studies of the Melastomataceae,
but it promises to be useful in determining generic relationships and
in pointing out patterns of evolutionary change in other important morphological
characteristics. In conjunction with DNA studies, chromosome cytology
is shedding light on the historical biogeography and phylogeny of the
4. Regional floristic inventories. I am currently preparing regional
inventories of the Melastomataceae for Costa Rica, Chiapas, Mexico, and
the entire Mesoamerican region that will include identification keys,
detailed species descriptions, distributional data, diagnostic illustrations,
and explanatory discussions. In addition to recording information on local
and commercial uses of species and their potential for economic exploitation,
these inventories provide the essential data base for determining which
tropical areas are unique and in need of protection.
Almeda, F. & C. M. Pringle. 1988. Tropical Rainforests: Diversity
and Conservation. Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences Number
12, California Academy of Sciences and Pacific Division,
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Almeda, F. 1990. New species and new combinations in Blakea and
Topobea (Melastomataceae), with an historical perspective on generic
limits in the tribe Blakecae. Proceedings of the California Academy
of Sciences 46: 299-326.
Almeda, F. and T.I. Chuang. 1992. Chromosome numbers and their systematics
significance in some Mexican Melastomataceae. Systematic Botany 17: 583-593.
Almeda, F. 1993a. Stanmarkia, a new genus of Melastomataceae
from the volcanic highlands of western Guatemala and adjacent Mexico.
Brittonia 45: 187-203.
Almeda, F. 1993b. Pilocosta (Melastomataceae) revisited: a new
species, polyploidy, and the base chromosome number of the genus. Novon
Almeda, F. 1993c. An evaluation of the Mesoamerican species of Meriania
(Melastomataceae: Merianieae). Proceedings of the California Academy
of Sciences 48: 141-152.
Almeda, F. 1997. Chromosome numbers and their evolutionary significance
in some neotropical and paleotropical Melastomataceae. BioLlania Ed. Esp.