Steve Oberbauer
Professsor of Biological Sciences
Florida International University
The Public Research University in Miami
11200 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33199
 CV  Research  Teaching  Grad students Some favorite places


The underlying questions of my research are: How do plants physiologically adjust to changes in limiting resources? What are the physiological and phenological constraints on plant responses to changing resources? What are the ecosystem consequences of these plant responses to changing resources?
The underlying basis for my interest in these systems is the importance of their responses to expected climate change resulting from human-induced increases in the atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane. In the Arctic, a large fraction of the earth's terrestrial carbon is stored in cold soils as peat. With climate warming, that carbon could be released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide or methane, creating a positive feedback for further warming. Tropical forests are the ecosystems with the greatest potential for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis, although tropical deforestation has been a major cause of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. A studies have suggested that a slight increase in temperature in the tropics could trigger release of enormous amounts of carbon from tropical forest soils. To address these issues, a mechanistic understanding of the plant and soil responses to limiting resources affected by climate change is needed. In both systems, my research focus has been leading toward understanding how these plant responses scale-up to affect ecosystem response and ecosystem carbon balance.

Curriculum vitae


Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, Fl, 33199, ph. (305) 348-2580


B.S. Biology San Diego State University, 1976

M.S. Biology San Diego State University, 1978

Ph.D. Botany Duke University, 1983 - minor Zoology


7/12  -  Date    Graduate Program Director, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University
5/00  -  Date     Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University.
8/97  -  8/02    Director, Tropical Biology Program, Florida International University.
5/93  -  5/00    Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University.
8/88  -  5/93    Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University.
7/85  -  8/88    Research Associate and P.I.  Systems Ecology Research Group, San Diego State University.  Research in Alaskan Arctic and California chaparral.

9/84  -  5/85    Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Science, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
10/83 - 9/84    Jesse Smith Noyes Foundation competitive postdoctoral award, "Drought adaptations of trees at La Selva, Costa Rica".
5/79  –  8/79    Research Assistant.  Research on water relations of Rocky Mountain alpine plants
1/79  –  5/83     Graduate Assistant, Duke Phytotron, Department of Botany, Duke University.  Research on ecophysiology of tropical trees.
1/79  -  3/79    Student, Organization for Tropical Studies, Tropical Biology, an Ecological Approach 79-1 winter course in Costa Rica.
5/78 - 12/78    Research Associate, Systems Ecology Research Group, San Diego State University.  Research on water relations of arctic plants
9/76  -  5/78    Graduate Assistant, Department of Biology, San Diego State University
6/76  -  8/76    Research Technician, Systems Ecology Research Group, San Diego State University. Gas exchange research on boreal forest trees and mosses and California chaparral

Professional Organizations:
    American Institute of Biological Sciences
    American Geophysical Union
    American Society of Plant Biologists
    Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
    Botanical Society of America
    California Native Plant Society
    Ecological Society of America

Publications: Last 5 years

Olivas, P.C., S.F. Oberbauer, D.B. Clark, D.A. Clark, M.G. Ryan, J.J. O’Brien, and H. Ordoñez. (In press).  Comparison of direct and indirect methods for assessing leaf area index across a tropical rain forest landscape.  Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 
Zanon, C., D.P. Genereux, and S.F. Oberbauer. (In press).  Use of a watershed hydrologic model to estimate interbasin groundwater flow in a Costa Rican rainforest. Hydrological Processes.
Clark, D.A., D.B. Clark, and S.F. Oberbauer. 2013 (in press). Field-quantified responses of tropical rainforest aboveground productivity to increasing CO2 and climatic stress, 1997-2009. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences.
Genereux, D.P., L. A. Nagy, C.L. Osburn, and S.F. Oberbauer 2103. A connection to deep groundwater alters ecosystem carbon fluxes and budget: example from a Costa Rican rainforest. Geophysical Research Letters 40, 2066–2070.
Oberbauer, S.F., S.C. Elmendorf, T.G. Troxler, R.D. Hollister, A.V. Rocha, M.S. Bret-Harte, M.A. Dawes, A.M. Fosaa, G.H.R. Henry, T.T. Høye, F.C. Jarrad, I.S. Jónsdóttir, K. Klanderud, J.A. Klein, U. Molau, C. Rixen, N.M. Schmidt, G.R. Shaver, R.T. Slider, Ø. Totland, C.-H. Wahren, J.M. Welker. (2013).  Phenological response of tundra plants to background climate variation tested using the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX).  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.
Patankar, R., B Mortazavi, S.F. Oberbauer, and G. Starr.  2013. Diurnal patterns of gas-exchange and metabolic pools in tundra plants during three phases of the arctic growing season.  Ecology and Evolution 3:375-388.
Patankar, R., G. Starr, B Mortazavi, S.F. Oberbauer, and A. Rosenblum. 2013. The Effects of mite galling on the ecophysiology of two arctic willows.  Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 45:99-106.
Genet, H., S.F. Oberbauer, S.J. Colby, C. Staudhammer, and G. Starr. 2013.  Growth responses of Sphagnum hollows to a season lengthening manipulation in Alaskan arctic tundra. Polar Biology. 36:41-50.
Ahrends, H.E., Oberbauer, S.F., Eugster, W. 2012. Small-scale albedo-temperature relationship with large-scale relations in Alaskan acidic tussock tundra. Proceedings of SPIE 8531, Remote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology XIV, 853113
Schedlbauer, J.L., J.W. Munyon, S.F. Oberbauer, E.E. Gaiser, and G. Starr. 2012. Controls on ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange in short- and long-hydroperiod Florida Everglades freshwater marshes. Wetlands 32:801-812.
Jimenez, K.L., G. Starr, C.L. Staudhammer, J.L. Schedlbauer, H.W. Loescher, S.L. Malone, and S.F. Oberbauer. 2012.  Carbon dioxide exchange rates from short- and long-hydroperiod Everglades freshwater marsh J. Geophys. Res. 117: doi:10.1029/2012JG002117.
Zona, D., D.A. Lipson, K.T. Paw U, S.F. Oberbauer, P. Olivas, B. Gioli, and W.C. Oechel.  2012. Increased CO2 loss from vegetated drained lake tundra ecosystems due to flooding.  Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 10.1029/2011GB004037
Elmendorf, S.C., Henry, G.H. R., Hollister, R.D., Björk, R.G., Bjorkman, A.D., Callaghan, T.V., Collier, L.S., Cooper, E.J., Cornelissen, J.H.C., Day, T.A., Fosaa, A.M., Gould, W.A., Grétarsdóttir, J., Harte, J., Hermanutz, L., Hik, D.S., Hofgaard, A., Jarrad, F., Jónsdóttir, I.S., Keuper, F., Klanderud, K., Klein, J.A., Koh, S., Kudo, G., Lang, S.I., Loewen, V., May, J.L., Mercado, J., Michelsen, A., Molau, U., Myers-Smith, I.H., Oberbauer, S.F., Pieper, S., Post, E., Rixen, C., Robinson, C.H., Schmidt, N.M., Shaver, G.R., Stenström, A., Tolvanen, A., Totland, Ø., Troxler, T., Wahren, C.-H., Webber, P.J., Welker, J.M. and Wookey, P.A. 2012. Global assessment of experimental climate warming on tundra vegetation: heterogeneity over space and time. Ecology Letters, 15: 164–175. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01716.x
Elmendorf, S. C., Henry, G. H. R., Hollister, R. D., Björk, R. G., Bjorkman, A. D., Callaghan, T. V., Collier, L. S., Cooper, E. J., Cornelissen, J. H. C., Day, T. A., Fosaa, A. M., Gould, W. A., Grétarsdóttir, J., Harte, J., Hermanutz, L., Hik, D. S., Hofgaard, A., Jarrad, F., Jónsdóttir, I. S., Keuper, F., Klanderud, K., Klein, J. A., Koh, S., Kudo, G., Lang, S. I., Loewen, V., May, J. L., Mercado, J., Michelsen, A., Molau, U., Myers-Smith, I. H., Oberbauer, S. F., Pieper, S., Post, E., Rixen, C., Robinson, C. H., Schmidt, N. M., Shaver, G. R., Stenström, A., Tolvanen, A., Totland, Ø., Troxler, T., Wahren, C.-H., Webber, P. J., Welker, J. M. and Wookey, P. A. 2012.  Plot-scale evidence of tundra vegetation change and links to recent summer warming. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1465
Schedlbauer, J.L., S.F. Oberbauer, G. Starr, and K.L. Jimenez. 2011. Controls on sensible heat and latent energy fluxes from a short-hydroperiod Florida Everglades marsh. Journal of Hydrology 411:331-341.
Olivas, P.C., S. F. Oberbauer, C. E. Tweedie, W. C. Oechel, D. Lin, and A. Kuchy. 2011. Effects of Fine-Scale Topography on CO2 Flux Components of Alaskan Coastal Plain Tundra: Response to Contrasting Growing Seasons.  Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. 43(2):256-266.
Zona, D ., Lipson D.A., Zulueta R.C., Oberbauer S.F., and Oechel W.C. 2011. Micro-topographic controls on ecosystem functioning in the Arctic Coastal Plain, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, G00I08, doi:10.1029/2009JG001241.
Zona D., W. C. Oechel, J. H. Richards, S. Hastings, I. Kopetz, Hiroki Ikawa, and S. Oberbauer (2011). Light stress avoidance mechanisms in a Sphagnum dominated wet coastal Arctic tundra ecosystem in Alaska. Ecology. 92:633–644
D’Odorico, P. V. Engel, J. A. Carr, S. F. Oberbauer, M. S. Ross, and J. Sah.  2011. Tree–Grass Coexistence in the Everglades Freshwater System. Ecosystems 14:298-310
Olivas, P. C., S. F. Oberbauer, C. E. Tweedie, W. C. Oechel, and A. Kuchy. 2010. Responses of CO2 Flux Components of Alaskan Coastal Plain Tundra To Shifts In Water Table. JGR-Biosciences 115, doi:10.1029/2009JG001254.
McDermitt, D., G. Burba, L. Xu, T. Anderson, A. Komissarov, J. Schedlbauer, G. Starr, D. Zona, W. Oechel, S. Oberbauer, and S. Hastings (2010). A low-power, open path instrument for measuring methane flux by eddy covariance. Applied Physics B. DOI 10.1007/s00340-010-4307-0.
Huemmrich, K.F., J.A. Gamon, C.E. Tweedie, S.F. Oberbauer, G. Kinoshita, S. Houston, A. Kuchy, R.D. Hollister, H. Kwon, M. Mano, Y. Harazono, P.J. Webber, and W.C. Oechel. 2010. Remote sensing of tundra gross ecosystem productivity and light use efficiency under varying temperature and moisture conditions. Remote Sensing of Environment 114(3):481-489.
Schedlbauer, J.L., S.F. Oberbauer, G. Starr, & K.L. Jimenez. 2010. Seasonal differences in ecosystem CO2 exchange in a short-hydroperiod Florida Everglades wetland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 150:994-1006.
Cavaleri, M.A., S.F. Oberbauer, D. B. Clark, D.A. Clark. and M.G. Ryan.  2010. Height is more important than light in determining leaf morphology in a tropical forest.  Ecology 91: 1730–1739.
Vandecar, K.L., D. Lawrence, T. Wood, S. F. Oberbauer, R. Das, K. Tully, L. Schwendenmann. 2009.  Biotic and abiotic controls on diurnal fluctuations in labile soil phosphorus of a wet tropical forest.  Ecology 90:2547-2555.
Clark, D.B.  D.A. Clark, and S.F. Oberbauer.  2009.  Annual wood production in a tropical rain forest in NE Costa Rica linked to climatic variation but not to increasing CO2. Global Change Biology 16: 747-759.
Fisher J.B, Y. Malhi, D. Bonal, H.R. da Rocha, A.C. de Araújo, M. Gamo, M.L. Goulden, T. Hirano, A.R. Huete, H. Kondo, T. Kumagai, H.W. Loescher, S. Miller, A.D. Nobre, Y. Nouvellon, S.F. Oberbauer, S. Panuthai, O. Roupsard, S. Saleska, K. Tanaka, N. Tanaka, K. P. Tu, and C. Von Randow. 2009.  The land–atmosphere water flux in the tropics.  Global Change Biology 15: 2694–2714.
Zona, D., W.C. Oechel, J. Kochendorfer, K.T. Paw U, A.N. Salyuk, P.C. Olivas, S.F. Oberbauer, and D.A. Lipson.  2009.  Methane fluxes during the initiation of a large-scale water table manipulation experiment in the Alaskan Arctic tundra. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 23, GB2013, DOI:10.1029/2009GB003487.
Palow, D.T., and S.F. Oberbauer. 2009.  Soil type affects seedling shade response at low light for two Inga species from Costa Rica.  Plant and Soil. DOI 10.1007/s11104-008-9846-3.
Cavaleri, M. A., S.F. Oberbauer, M. G. Ryan 2008.  Foliar and ecosystem respiration in an old-growth tropical rain forest.  Plant, Cell & Environment  31:473–483.
Gomez-Peralta, D., S.F. Oberbauer, M.E. McClain, and T.E. Philippi. 2008. Rainfall and Cloud-Water Interception in Tropical Montane Cloud Forests in the Eastern Andes of Central Peru. Forest ecology and Management.  255:1315-1325. 
Starr, G., S.F. Oberbauer, and L.E. Ahlquist 2008. The photosynthetic response of Alaskan tundra plants to increased season length and soil warming. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 40:181-191.
O’Brien, J.J., S.F. Oberbauer, D.B. Clark, and D.A. Clark. 2008. Phenology and stem growth seasonality in a Costa Rican wet tropical forest.  Biotropica 40:151-159.
Clark, D.B., P. Olivas, S. F. Oberbauer, D.A. Clark, M.G. Ryan. 2008. First direct landscape-scale measurement of tropical rain forest leaf area index, a key driver of global primary productivity.  Ecology Letters. 11-163-172.


National Science Foundation – Ecosystems.  Causes and implications of dry season control of tropical wet forest tree growth at very high water levels: direct vs. indirect limitations (CARBONO - VERANO project).

National Science Foundation – Polar Programs.  Arctic Observing Networks: Collaborative Research: Sustaining and amplifying the ITEX AON through automation and increased interdisciplinarity of observations (AON-ITEX).

NSF-Arctic Natural Sciences. Collaborative Research; cold-season gas exchange of arctic plants - resolving winter carbon and water balances of Alaskan arctic tundra (Coldseason project).

DOE-NICCR. Response of carbon dioxide, water, and energy exchange of peat and marl wetlands in the Florida Everglades to changes in hydroperiod (Evergladesflux).

Carbon stockes and fluxes in a tropical rain forest in Costa Rica Carbono project

Current students
Jeremy May Ph.D. (year 3)
Jose Luciani M.S. (year 3) 

Past Graduate students

Past Graduate students
von Kleist III, K.  M.S.  1993.  Cypress domes in Everglades National Park under different hydrological regimes

Ozores-Hampton, M.  M.S. 1993.  Influence of municipal solid waste compost on growth, yield, and nutrient and heavy metal contents of tomato and squash.

Burch, J.N. 1997.  Ph.D.  Interaction of the parasitic angiosperm Cassytha filiformis L. (Lauraceae) with the exotic Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi (Anacardiaceae) in Southern Florida.

Ritter, S.  1997.  Ph.D.  Controls and costs of flowering in tropical plum, Spondias purpurea L.

Pop, E. 1997.  M.S.  Salix pulchra and Betula nana in a globally warmed climate: a model of bud break for two key arctic plant species.

Whelan, K.R.T. 1997.  M.S.  Short-term responses of cypress communities to Hurricane Andrew.

Starr. G. 1998. M.S.  Effects of early extended season and soil warming on ecophysiology of Polygonum bistorta: a global warming perspective.

McHargue, L.A. 1999.  Ph.D.  Factors affecting the nodulation and growth of tropical woody legumes.

Gorsuch, D.M.  2000.  M.S.  Analysis of xylem susceptibility to cavitation in arctic plants: physiological and anatomical studies under natural and simulated climate conditions.

Starr, G. 2000.  Ph.D.  A multi-scale assessment of physiological processes in arctic tundra plants under natural and simulated climate change scenarios.

O’Brien, J.J. 2001.  Ph.D. The effects of climate on the growth and physiology of tropical rainforest canopy trees.

Parker, I.C.  2003.  M.S. Relating ecosystem CO2 exchange to spatial representations of the normalized difference vegetation index in the Arctic.

Ahlquist, L.E. 2003. M.S.  Nutrient cycling in Alaskan tundra in response to experimental manipulation of growing season length and soil temperature: a climate change scenario. 

Palow, D.T. 2003. M.S.  Effects of light and soil type on seedling growth and physiology of two Inga species.

Baldwin, T.A. 2004.  M.S.  Effects of resource limitation on essential oil production in Ledum palustre ssp decumbens (Ait.) Hultén.

Moreno-Hurtado F. E. 2004.  Ph.D. Soil carbon dynamics in primary and secondary tropical forests in Colombia.

Garcia-Guerrero, A. 2005.  M.S. Leaf optical properties within a lowland tropical rain forest

Gomez, D.  2005.  M.S.  Rainfall and cloud-water interception in the tropical montane cloud forest and effect of forest structure.

Whelan, K. R. T. 2005.  Ph.D. The successional dynamics of lightning-initiated canopy gaps in the mangrove forests of Shark River, Everglades National Park, USA.

Brinez, C. 2005.  M.S.  Dynamics of canopy cover in a tropical wet forest in Costa Rica.

Olivas, P.C. 2007.  M.S. The interactive roles of microtopography and moss cover for whole-ecosystem carbon flux in coastal wet tundra of Alaska.

Colby, S. J. 2007.  M.S. Effect of a sudden freeze-thaw event on Sphagnum girgensohnii grown under different light and temperature regimes.

Husby, C. E. 2009.  Ph.D.  Ecophysiology and biomechanics of Equisetum giganteum L. in South America. 

Olivas, P.C. 2010.  Ph.D. Arctic ecosystem responses to changes in water availability and warming, short and long-term responses.

Moser, J.G. 2012.  M.S. Cold season physiology of arctic plants.

Some of my favorite places

California Poppy Preserve

Ribdon River, Alaska


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