‌Leonel da Silveira Lobo O'Reilly Sternberg


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246 Cox Science Center
1301 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33124
E-mail: l.sternberg@miami.edu
Office: (305) 284-6436
Fax: (305) 284-3039

Lab website


  • Professor, University of Miami, June 1998-Present
  • Associate Professor, University of Miami, June 1990-June 1998
  • Assistant Professor, University of Miami, August 1985-June 1990
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90024, June 1981 - July 1985
  • Instructor of Agricultural Sciences, Los Angeles School District, Los Angeles, California September 1980 - June 1981
  • Biochemist, Redken Laboratory, Van Nuys, California, December 1978- September 1980
  • Ph. D. In Biology, University of California, Riverside, California, November 1978 Thesis: Microbody MDH in Opuntia basilaris.
  • M.S. in Biology, University of California, Riverside, California, November 1975 Thesis: Growth Forms of Larrea tridentata.
  • B.S. in Mathematics, California State University of Hayward, Hayward, California


  • WaterScapes: Science of coupled aquatic processes in wetland ecosystems. NASA. March 4, 2009-July31, 2013,
  • Tree island function in relation to marsh hydrology. South Florida Water Management District. January 26, 2009 - September 30, 2009,
  • Collaborative Research: TransArctic Paleoclimate of the Eocene. National Science Foundation. April 1, 2008-March 30, 2011.
  • Acquisition of 2 stable isotope mass spectrometers. National Science Foundation. Sept 01, 2004 - Aug. 31, 2007.
  • Ant Nests and Nutrition of Tropical Trees. Guggenheim Foundation. June 01, 2003- May 30, 2004.
  • Biocomplexity of Hydrologically-Controlled Vegetation Dynamics: Quantitative Comparative Analysis of Everglades and Cerrado Ecosystems under Contrasting Soil Moisture and Hydrological Regimes. National Science Foundation. P.I. Fernando Miralles-Willhelm. September 01, 2003- August 30, 2007.
  • Collaborative Research: Environmental fluctuations during the Arctic Eocene growing seasons: stable isotope analysis of plant fossils from Axel Heiberg Islands. National Science Foundation. July 01, 2003 - June 30, 2006.
  • An integrative approach to access the interaction between water relations of vegetation and hydrodynamics of coastal sandy beaches. Environmental Protection Agency. August 30, 2002 - September 1, 2005.
  • Free Air Respiratory Carbon Isotope Enrichment Experiment. National Institute for Global Environmental Change. September 30, 2002 - October 1, 2003.
  • Natural Nitrogen - 15 Abundance in Toadfish. National Institute of Health. May 1, 2000 - April 30, 2001.


  • Tropical Biology


I am interested in how natural processes occurring at the organismal level scale up to communities and ecosystems. I use the natural abundances of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen stable isotopes as a scaling tool. These isotopes are used as natural tracers of biochemical, physiological and ecosystem processes. Knowing something about isotopic fractionations during transpiration at the leaf scale, for example, allows us to conclude that vapor generated in an Amazonian tropical forest is mostly derived by transpiration and not evaporation. This phenomenon when scaled up to a regional level allows us to draw certain conclusions about the effect of deforestation on climate.


One of the courses I teach is a basic Biology laboratory which is somewhat different from the common "cookbook" format found in beginning laboratory courses. Students are thought a method of measuring a biological parameter such as respiration rates or isotopic abundances of plants and are then encouraged to pursue their own questions using this measuring technique. In the process they learn about the scientific method, how to ask questions, experimental design and statistics. The other course I teach is a graduate level stable isotope ecology course. Here students are introduced to the basic processes causing isotopic heterogeneity in the biosphere and encouraged to think about how stable isotopes can be applied towards their own research project.



  • Kosten, Sarian, Roland, Fábio, Da Motta Marques, David M.L., Van Nes, Egbert H., Mazzeo, Néstor, Da S. L. Sternberg, Leonel, Scheffer, Marten, Cole, Jon J. Climate-dependent CO2 emissions from lakes. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 24:GB2007, doi10.1029/2009GB003618 (2010).
  • *Matlaga, D., L. da S.L. Sternberg. Ephemeral clonal integration in /Calathea marantifolia/ (Marantaceae):  Evidence of diminished integration over time. American Journal of Botany 96: 431-438 (2009).
  • Jahren AH, Byrne MC, Graham HV, Sternberg LSL, Summons RE. The environmental water of the middle Eocene Arctic: evidence from dD, d18O and d13C within specific compounds. Palaeo-3 271: 96-103 (2009).
  • Sternberg L da SL. Oxygen stable isotope ratios of tree-ring cellulose: the next phase of understanding. New Phytologist 181: 553-562 (2009).
  • *Saha AK, Sternberg LdaSL, Miralles-Wilhelm F. Linking water sources with foliar nutrient status in upland communities. Ecohydrology 2:42-54 (2009).
  • Kosten S, Huszar VLM, Mazzeo N, Scheffer M, Sternberg L da SL, Jeppesen E. Limitation of phytoplankton growth in South America: no evidence for increasing nitrogen limitation towards the tropics. Ecological Applications 19: 1791-1804 (2009).