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Robert I. Bertin


Biology Department

Distinguished Professor of Science
Ph.D., University of Illinois


Fields: Ecology, Evolutionary Biology of Higher Plants

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Office Phone: 508-793-2352
Office: O'Neil 316
Lab: O'Neil 321
PO Box:

Office Hours:




Introduction to Biology 2
General Ecology
Field Botany
Topics in Biology: Environmental Biology

Additional information can be found in the College Catalog @




My current research is in three principal areas: the reproductive biology of flowering plants, the flora and natural history of central Massachusetts, and the ecology of invasive species.

My interests in reproductive biology lie in understanding the ecological function and adaptive basis of reproductive traits. My current work is an attempt to understand the functional significance of having two different sexual types of flowers on a plant. Asters and goldenrods, for example, bear both female and bisexual flowers. Students and I investigated the possibility that the presence of these two flower types permits plants to be flexible in their allocation of resources to male and female functions. We found little evidence to support this hypothesis in either plant group, and the same was true in sedges of the genus Carex, wind-pollinated plants that bear male and female flowers.  We are currently examining whether patterns of herbivory might favor two flower types in asters and goldenrods.

My floristic work involves compilation of a flora of Worcester County, Massachusetts. This work has several goals. One is to understand the ranges and ecological affinities of our native flora. A second, using comparisons with extensive herbarium records from the past century, is to understand patterns of change in abundance of both native and non-native species in relation to succession, human activities and climate change.

Invasive and Native Species: My floristic work has revealed a great abundance and diversity of introduced species. These comprise roughly a third of the plant species in central Massachusetts. Of particular concern among these are species that thrive in natural communities. These species can alter the ecology of these communities and sometimes pose a threat to rare native species. Together with several students I have examined the abundance and distribution of introduced tree species in urban woodlands, with special emphasis on Norway maple. This shade-tolerant tree is commonly used for street and garden plantings and appears able to outcompete native species in some natural woodlands.


Recent Publications

Zanne, A. E., D. C. Tank, W. K. Cornwell, J. M. Eastman, S. A. Smith, R. G. FitzJohn, D. J. McGlinn, B. C. O’Meara, A. T. Moles, P. B. Reich, D. L. Royer, D. E. Soltis, P. F. Stevens, M. Westoby, I. J. Wright, L. Aarssen, R. I. Bertin, A. Calaminus, R. Govaerts, F. Hemmings, M. R. Leishman, J. Oleksyn, P. S. Soltis, N. G. Swenson, L. Warman, and J. M. Beaulieu. 2014. Three keys to the radiation of angiosperms into freezing environments. Nature 506: 89-92.

Bertin, R. I. and C. M. Parise. 2014. Patterns and changes in the non-native flora of Worcester County, Massachusetts. American Midland Naturalist 172:37-60.

Bertin, R. I. 2013. Changes in the Native Flora of Worcester County, Massachusetts. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 140:414-452. GET PDF

Bertin, R. I. and T. J. Rawinski. 2012. Vascular flora of Worcester County Massachusetts. New England Botanical Club Special Publication. 289 pp.  Copies available for $23 postpaid from Karro Frost, Treasurer, New England Botanical Club, 122 Hastings Pond Road, Warwick, MA 01378-9309

Bertin, R. I., D. B. Connors and H. M. Kleinman. 2010. Differential herbivory on disk and ray flowers of gynomonoecious asters and goldenrods (Asteraceae). Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 101: 544-552.  GET PDF

Bertin, R. I. 2008. Plant phenology and distribution in relation to recent climate change. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 135:126-146.

Bertin, R. I. 2007. Sex allocation in Carex (Cyperaceae): effects of light, water and nutrients. Canadian Journal of Botany 85:377-384.

Bertin, R. I., B. G. DeGasperis and J. M. Sabloff. 2006. Land use and forest history in an urban sanctuary in central Massachusetts. Rhodora 108: 119-141.

Bertin, R. I., M. E. Manner, B. F. Larrow, T. W. Cantwell and E. M. Berstene. 2005. Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and other non-native trees in urban woodlands of central Massachusetts. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 132:225-235

Routley, M. B., R. I. Bertin and B. C. Husband. 2004. Correlated evolution of dichogamy and self-incompatibility: a phylogenetic perspective. International Journal of Plant Science 165:983-993.

Bertin, R.I. 2002. Losses of native plant species from Worcester, Massachusetts. Rhodora 104:325-349.

Bertin, R.I. and G. M. Gwisc. 2002. Floral sex ratios and gynomonoecy in Solidago (Asteraceae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 77:413-422.  GET PDF

Bertin, R. I., K. B. Searcy and P. Somers. 2002. A new native plant for Massachusetts, Carex backii (Cyperaceae). Rhodora 104:201-204.

Bertin, R. I. 2001. Life cycle, demography, and reproductive biology of herb Robert (Geranium robertianum). Rhodora 103:96-116.

Bertin, R. I. 2000. Vascular flora of Worcester, Massachusetts. New England Botanical Club.
You may download the supplement to this monograph by clicking here.

Bertin, R. I. and M. A. Kerwin. 1998. Floral sex ratios and gynomonoecy in Aster (Asteraceae). American Journal of Botany 85:235-244.

Sage, T.L., R.I. Bertin, and E.G. Williams. 1994. Ovarian and other late-acting self-incompatibility systems. In E.G. Williams, A.E. Clarke, R. B. Knox (eds.) Genetic control of self-incompatibility and reproductive development in flowering plants. Pgs. 116-140. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Bertin, R.I. and C.M. Newman. 1993. Dichogamy in angiosperms. Botanical Review 59:112-152.

Bertin, R.I. 1993. Incidence of monoecy and dichogamy in relation to self-fertilization in angiosperms. American Journal of Botany 80:537-560.

Bertin, R.I., and O.D.V. Sholes. 1993. Weather, pollination and the phenology of Geranium maculatum. American Midland Naturalist 129:52-66.

Bertin, R.I., and P.J. Peters. 1992. Paternal effects on offspring quality in Campsis radicans. American Naturalist 140:166-178. GET PDF

Johnson, RA, Mary F. Willson, John N. Thompson, Robert I. Bertin. 1985. Nutritional Values of Wild Fruits and Consumption by Migrant Frugivorous Birds. Ecology 66: 819-827  GET PDF

Bertin, RI. 1982. The evolution and maintenance of andromonoecy.  Evolutionary Theory 6: 25-32.  GET PDF