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Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences

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.


  • Disturbance and climate change in arctic ecosystems
  • Ecophysiology of tropical trees and forests
  • Everglades Research and Collaborations with FIU colleagues

Please visit the following link to view Dr. Oberbauer’s current projects


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.

La Puma, I. P., T.R. Philippi, and S.F. Oberbauer. 2007. Relating NDVI to ecosystem CO2 exchange patterns in response to season length and soil warming manipulations in arctic Alaska. Remote Sensing of Environment. 109:225-236.

Oberbauer, S.F., C.E. Tweedie, J. M. Welker, J. T. Fahnestock, G.H.R. Henry, P.J. Webber, R.D. Hollister, M.D. Walker, A. Kuchy, E. Elmore, and G. Starr. 2007. Carbon dioxide exchange responses of arctic tundra ecosystems to experimental warming along latitudinal and moisture gradients. Ecological Monographs 77:221-238.

Jones, D.T., J.P. Sah, M.S. Ross, S.F. Oberbauer, B. Hwang and K. Jayachandran. 2006. Growth and physiological responses of twelve tree species common to Everglades tree islands to simulated hydrologic regimes. Wetlands 26:830-844.

Cavaleri, M.A., M.G. Ryan, and S.F. Oberbauer. 2006. Wood CO2 efflux in a primary tropical rain forest. Global Change Biology 2006 12:2442-2458.

Walker, M.D., C. Henrik Wahren, R.D. Hollister, G.H.R. Henry, L.E. Ahlquist, J.M. Alatalo, M. S. Bret-Harte, M.P. Calef, T.V. Callaghan, A.B. Carroll, H.E. Epstein, I.S. J�nsd�ttir, J.A. Klein, B. Magn�sson, U. Molau, S.F. Oberbauer, S.P. Rewa, C.H. Robinson, G.R. Shaver, K.N. Suding, C.C. Thompson, A. Tolvanen, �. Totland, P. Lee Turner, C.E. Tweedie, P.J. Webber, and P. A. Wookey 2006. Plant community responses to experimental warming across the tundra biome. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 103:342-346.

Loescher, H.W., H.L. Gholz, J.M. Jacobs, and S.F. Oberbauer 2005. Energy balance and modeled evapotranspiration for a wet tropical forest in Costa Rica. Journal of Hydrology 315:274-294.

Sturm, M., J. Schimel, G. Michelson, J. Welker, S.F. Oberbauer, G. Liston, J. Fahnestock, and V.E. Romanovsky. 2005. The role of winter biological processes in converting arctic tundra to shrubland. BioScience 55:17-26.

O'Brien, J.J., S.F. Oberbauer, D.B. Clark and D.A. Clark. 2004 Tropical tree water use responds to climatic variation similarly among morphologically diverse rainforest tree species. Plant Cell and Environment. 27:551-567

Loescher, H.W., J.A. Bentz, S.F. Oberbauer, T.K. Gosh, R.V. Thompson, and S.K. Loyalka. 2004. Characterization and dry deposition of carbonaceous aerosols in a wet tropical forest canopy. Journal of Geophysical Research. 109:D02309

Starr, G., D.S. Neuman, and S. F. Oberbauer. 2004. Ecophysiological analysis of two arctic sedges under reduced root temperatures. Physiologia Plantarum. 120:458-464

Starr, G. and S.F. Oberbauer. 2003. Photosynthesis of arctic evergreens under snow: implications for tundra ecosystem carbon balance. Ecology 84:1415�1420.

Hobbie, J. E., G. Shaver, J. Laundre, K. Slavik, L. A. Deegan, J. O'Brien, S. Oberbauer, and S. MacIntyre. 2003. Climate forcing at the Arctic LTER Site. In: D. Greenland, D. Goodin and R. Smith (eds.), Climate Variability and Ecosystem Response at Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Sites. Pp 74-91. Oxford University Press, New York.

Loescher, H.W., S.F. Oberbauer, H.L. Gholz, and D.B. Clark. 2003. Environmental controls on net ecosystem-level carbon exchange and productivity in a Central American tropical wet forest. Global Change Biology 9:396-412


Steve Oberbauer

11200 SW 8th St, AHC1 218A

Miami, FL 33199

Steven.Oberbauer@fiu.edu - 305-348-2580

FIU International Center for Tropical Botany