Elvia Meléndez-Ackerman

Full Professor

Hometown/country: Puerto Rico

Academic Background:

BSc: Biology University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras

MS: Biology University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras

PhD: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Irvine 1995.

Research interests: Evolution and Bioconservation of Terrestrial Ecosystems


  • Plant Reproductive Ecology
  • Bio Conservation
  • Urban Ecology
  • Social Ecological Systems
  • Ecosystem Services


Current research:


  • Drivers of urban biodiversity and ecosystem services at the Rio Piedras watershed: connections to management and socioeconomic aspects. Has been sponsored by NSF-CREST, NSF-ULTRA-Ex, IITF, Many collaborators.
  • Vulnerabilty analyses/monitoring of three endangered species: Gesneria pauciflora – USFW Mervin Perez, Omar Monsegur Lepanthes rupestris - DNER, USFW Rayza Hernadez, Raymond Tremblay, Omar Monsegur Gonocalyx concolor – USFW, Lynette Anduja, Mariam Velazquez, Carlos Pacheco.
  • Ecosystem Services in Neotropical Tropical Cities. IITF, USAID. Many collaborators


Past research:


  • Plant ecology
  • Bioconservation of tropical dry forest ecosystems with focus on Mona Island Puerto Rico
  • Species responses to climate variability, effects of exotics on plant communities
  • biodiversity drivers within urban systems
  • plant-animal interactions
  • evolution of floral traits
  • metapopulation dynamics in orchids
  • genetic variation in natural populations


Courses Taught:


  • Evolution Seminar (Grad)
  • Plant Reproductive Ecology (Grad)
  • BioConservation (Grad)
  • Introduction to Ecology
  • Introduction to Environmental Sciences
  • Botany


Service and other projects:


  • Chair Env. Sci. Dept. Academics Affairs Committee
  • AKKA SEEDS Ecology Chapter Mentor
  • Amigos del Yunque BoD
  • Frente Unido Contra La Fumigacion Aerea
  • UPR Delegate to the Organization for Tropical Studies and member of UPR’s GK-12 Task Force


Contact info:



Recent Publications:


E. J. Meléndez-Ackerman, Rojas-Sandoval J., D. S. Fernández., Grizelle Gonzalez, Hana López, J. Sustache, M. Morales-Vargas, M. García-Bermúdez and, S. Aragón. 2016. Associations between Soil Variables and Vegetation Structure and Composition of Caribbean Dry Forests. Caribbean Naturalist 1:176-198.

Rojas-Sandoval, J., E. J. Meléndez-Ackerman, J.Fumero-Cabán, M. García-Bermúdez, J. Sustache , S. Aragón, M. Morales-Vargas, G. Olivieri and D. S. Fernández. 2016. “10-year assessment of ungulates exclusion in the dry forest of Mona Island: understory vegetation responses” Caribbean Naturalist 1:138-156.

Rojas-Sandoval and J., E. J. Meléndez. Assessing the impact of grass invasions on the population dynamics of a threatened Caribbean dry forest cactus. Biological Conservation 196:156-164

Synthesis of Household Yard Area Dynamics in the City of San Juan Using Multi-Scalar Social-Ecological Perspectives. Elvia J. Meléndez-Ackerman *, Christopher J. Nytch, Luis E. Santiago-Acevedo, Julio C. Verdejo-Ortiz, Raúl Santiago Bartolomei, Luis E. Ramos-Santiago, Tischa A. Muñoz-Erickson. Sustainability 8(5), 481; doi:10.3390/su8050481

Acevedo, M. A., Fletcher, R.J., R. L. Tremblay, and E.J. Melendez-Ackerman. 2015. Spatial asymmetries in connectivity influence colonization-extinction dynamics. Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-015-3361-z