Dr Alex Monro

Dr Alex Monro
  • Researcher, Tropical Plant Diversity
  • Life Sciences department
  • Plants Division
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Born: 31 May 1968
Nationality: British / French (dual)
BAHons in Pure & Applied Biology, 2.i, University of Oxford, 1989.
PhD, Taxonomy of the species-rich genus Pilea (Urticaceae), Oxford Brookes University, 2007
Career: 1993-present Researcher, Department of Botany, NHM

Expertise & Interests

  • Documentation and classification of the Flowering Plant family Urticaceae Worldwide (ca 2000 spp)
  • Tools for the conservation of biological diversity in Central America
  • Field collection of Vascular Plant herbarium collections, samples for DNA analysis and digital images (ca 6,800 numbers)
  • Fluent French and Spanish speaker

Professional Roles

Selected grants

  • The Darwin Initiative: Tools for the sustainable harvesting of Mayanut. £202,374 PI (2010)
  • The Royal Society: Cave-dwelling Elatostema Travel Grant £3,800 PI (2009)
  • The Darwin Initiative (Post Project Funding): Integrating local communities and science: management of La Amistad (Costa Rica-Panama). £91,000. PI (2009)
  • The Darwin Initiative: Baseline tools for management in PN La Amistad (Costa Rica/Panama) £225,993. PI (2006) http://www.inbio.ac.cr/pila-darwin/
  • The Darwin Initiative: Tools and training for fern conservation and monitoring (El Salvador). £114,000. Co-applicant (2006). http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/el-salvador-coffee/
  • The Darwin Initiative: Scholarship Programme, develop the taxonomic capacity of a Salvadoran botanist from Jardín Botánico La Laguna and updated checklist and database of Salvadoran ferns. £5,225. PI (2005).
  • Museum Reseach Fund. Assessment of the production of deleterious respirable silica airborne particulate from the burning of siliceous biomass. £16,147. Co-Applicant (2005)
  • The Linnean Society of London, Side Bonhote Fund: Towards a phylogeny of the species-rich genus Pilea (Urticaceae). £2,040. PI (2003)
  •  IUCN Small Grants Fund: Café y Biodiversidad Symposium. £1,500. PI (2003)
  • The Darwin Initiative: Empowering local people to manage the biodiversity of El Salvador. £120,000. PI (1999)

Invited Speaker

  • A novel approach to integrating remote-sensed wavelength and field based biodiversity data. Conference celebrating the 250 years of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew (2009)
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office of Science and Innovation, ‘Sustainable use of medicinal plants’. Guangxi Garden of Traditional Chinese Medicine,Guangxi (2009)
  • Geotourism in forest for shade coffee. Workshop organised by the Banco Multisectorial de Inversiones of El Salvador. ‘Characteristics of Salvadoran shade coffee forest ’ (2009)
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office of Science and Innovation Network Fact-finding Mission ‘Sustainable use of medicinal plants’. Team leader and invited speaker (2007)
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office of Science and Innovation Network Fact-finding Mission to South China. South China Institute of Botany,  and the Guangxi Garden of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guangxi (2007)
  • SBSSTA Poster presented in Thailand as part of El Salvador’s delegation (2005)
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office of Science and Innovation Network Mission to China, ‘UK-China: Partners in Science Global: strategy for Plant Conservation’. Invited speaker at the Beijing Institute of Botany and the Kunming Institute of Botany, Yunnan (2005)

PhD Students

  • Ms Wu Zeng-yuan, ongoing. Systematics of Urticaceae. (Prof. Li Dezhu, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Institute of Botany)
  •  Ms Qing Shao, Systematics of Elatostema (Urticaceae) using molecular and morphological data. (Prof. Fu De-Zhi, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Botany, PhD awarded in 2010)

Committees, appointments

  • Editor for Phytotaxa: http://www.mapress.com/phytotaxa/index.htm
  • Commission member for Flora Neotropica
  • Member of Botany Department’s Curation Strategy Group
  • Member of Botany Department’s Strategy Group

Public Engagement

  • Two to three Nature Live presentation each year
  • Museum of Life BBC documentary
  • A-Level schools visit: ‘applications of taxonomic research and biodiversity inventories’.
  • Botany of Brixton Market as part of Black History Month.
  • Video footage for the Explore exhibition in Darwin Centre 2 of the Natural History Museum.
  • One of two scientific contributors to a major Museum exhibition brief, ‘Humans and the Natural World’. Brief signed-off
  • Various press interviews to UK, Costa Rican and Panamanian National Press publicising findings of research projects


 Main research interests are the documentation, discovery and conservation of biodiversity, with particular emphasis on Central America and the flowering plant family Urticaceae (ca 2000 spp) Worldwide. Cross-cutting themes include, realising the potential of biological collections to support conservation, the documentation of the biodiversity of poorly or un-explored areas of Central America, and generating local taxonomic capacity. This has been achieved through Flora Mesoamericana, an international NHM flagship project, and additional stand-alone field-based projects.

Main collaborators are Nelson Zamora (INBio), Angel Solis (INBio), Eduardo Boza (University of Costa Rica), Federico Bolanos (University of Costa Rica), Mireya Correa (University of Panamá), Wei Yi-Gang (Guangxi Institute of Botany), the National Botanic Garden of Cuba (HAJB), the Nature Conservancy (Costa Rica) and the Equilibrium Fund.


  • Belize (Chiquibul): 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000
  • Bolivia (Pando): 1988
  • Brazil (Amazonas): 1991, 1992
  • China (Guangxi, Guizho, Yunnan): 2004, 2009, 2010
  • Costa Rica (Talamanca): 2007, 2008, 2010
  • Dominican Republic: 2006
  • El Salvador: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
  • Panama (Talamanca): 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008
  • Peru: 2002

Images of many of these collections are available on W3 Tropicos http://www.tropicos.org/SpecimenSearch.aspx


  • Monro A.K. & Jones, D. 2010. Designing field guides for local communities: a case study from shade coffee farms in El Salvador. In, Lawrence, A., ed. Taking stock of nature: participatory biodiversity assessment for policy planning and practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Monro A.K. 2009. A new species of Pilea (Urticaceae) from the Talamanca Mountains, Costa Rica Phytotaxa 2: 24–28
    M. J. M. Christenhusz, M. W. Chase, M. F. Fay, T. Lumbsch, A.K. Monro, M. Vorontsova & Z.-Q. Zhang. A new international journal for rapid publication of botanical taxonomy. Phytotaxa 1: 1–2 (20 Oct. 2009).
    Monro A.K. & Rodríguez, A. Nomenclatural synopsis of Mesoamerican Urera Gaudich. (Urticaceae) and three new species. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 96: 268-285
  •  Monro, A.K. 2009. Nomenclatural synopsis of Mesoamerican Myriocarpa Gaudich.(Urticaceae) and three new species. Novon 19: 1-19
  • Monterrosa S., J. & A.K. Monro. 2008. An annotated checklist to the Monilophytes (ferns) and Lycophytes of El Salvador. Fern Gazette 18: 120-215
  • Monro A.K. Cucurbitaceae, pro parte. Cayaponia Manso (11 spp), Citrullus Schrad ex Ecklon & Zeyh. (1 spp), Cucumis L. (4 spp), Elateriopsis Ernst (2 spp), Fevillea L (1 spp), Hanburia Seem. (1 sp), Parasicyos  Dieterle (1 spp), Posadaea Cogn. (1 spp), Pseudosicydium Harms. (1 spp), Tecunumania  Standl. & Steyerm., (1 spp)., Flora Mesoamericana Vol. 4. (24 spp). Online publication Nov. 26, 2007.
  • Monro, A.K. & Hampshire, R.J. Cucurbitaceae pro parte, Cionosicyos Griseb. (1 spp)., Flora Mesoamericana Vol. 4. (1 spp). Online publication Nov. 26, 2007.
  • Hopkins, H. C. F. & Monro A.K. Pilea. 2006. In H.C.F. Hopkins (ed.), A guide to the alpine and subalpine flora of Mt Jaya, RBG Kew
  • Monro, A.K., Jones, D & M.E. Araujo P. 2006. Taxonomic capacity can improve environmental and economic sustainability in biodiversity-rich shade coffee farms in El Salvador. Systematics and Biodiversity 4(1): 1-8
  • Monro. A.K. 2006. The revision of species-rich genera: a phylogenetic framework for the
    strategic revision of Pilea (Urticaceae) based on CPDNA, NRDNA and morphology. American Journal of Botany 93(3): 426-441
  • Monro A.K. 2001. Synopsis of Mesoamerican Pilea (Urticaceae) including eighteen typifications and a key to the species. Bulletin of The Natural History Museum, London 31(1): 9-25. 2001.
  •  Monro A.K., Alexander D., Reyes J. & Ventura N. 2001. Árboles de los Cafetales de El Salvador. The Natural History Museum, London. 185 pp. ISBN 0565091700.
  • Monro A.K. & Stafford P. 1998. A synopsis of the genus Echinopepon Naud. including three new tax. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: 257-272.