Prof. Marcelo Sternberg

Molecular Biology Ecology of Plants
Faculty of Life Sciences
ביולוגיה מול.ואקול.צמחים סגל אקדמי בכיר
Prof. Marcelo Sternberg
Phone: 03-6405877
Fax: 03-6409159
Office: Britannia-Porter, 612



Period Degree Institute Faculty/Department
1982-1988 B.Sc.-M.Sc. Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina Biology
1989-1994 Ph.D. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ecology



Period Rank/Function School/Department Institute
2020-present Full Professor School of Plant Sciences & Food Security Tel Aviv University
2010-2020 Associate Professor School of Plant Sciences & Food Security Tel Aviv University
2005-2010 Senior Lecturer ​School of Plant Sciences & Food Security Tel Aviv University
2001-2005 Lecturer School of Plant Sciences & Food Security Tel Aviv University
2000-2001 Lecturer Faculty of Life Sciences Bar-Ilan University

Research Interests

Sternberg’s Plant Ecology Lab addresses a diversity of fundamental questions in plant ecology. We take a broad approach to experimental research, with interest in plant community ecology, grazing ecology, functional ecology, invasion ecology, conservation ecology, and global climate change ecology.

We generally use experimental approaches in both natural communities and agro-ecosystems to test questions at the levels of the population, community, and ecosystem. We combine strong field-work, controlled greenhouse environments, and remote sensing tools.

Prof. Sternberg was nominated in 2021 as Chang Jiang Chair Professor at Ningxia University in China. This is the highest academic award given by the Chinese government to scientists.


List of key current research projects:

  1. Our lab is running since 2001, one of the world's oldest climate change experiments using rainfall manipulations. At the Matta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) station in the Judean Hills, we study the effects of climate change on ecosystem structure and function when exposed to extreme drought and changes in rainfall patterns.
  2. The Plant Ecology lab is involved in a long-term cattle range management experiment in a Mediterranean grassland (Karei Deshe LTER) aiming to study the effects of grazing on ecosystem function and services.
  3. Our lab is currently involved in a remote sensing project studying the capabilities of the VENµS satellite, as a tool for quantifying the effects of climate change on forage quantity and quality in Israeli rangelands.
  4. An additional study focus on the effects of invasive plant species on ecosystem function and structure in coastal dunes of Israel. The goal of this study is to provide accurate estimate on water cost of invasion and provide remote sensing based tool for effective management of invasive species for environmental monitoring, conservation and natural resource management.  
  5. Sternberg’s lab is engaged in a research project studying the use of natural herbaceous vegetation as cover crops in vineyards, as a tool for soil erosion prevention while strengthening the soil structure and sustainability of the agricultural operation.       
  6. Our lab is also studying the ecology of wild populations of Lupinus pilosus as a potential novel legume crop. This species grows under a wide range of environmental conditions and produce seeds rich in proteins. Nevertheless, this plant is protected by high levels of secondary compounds. Our lab is searching for wild populations that may be suitable for domestication.
  7. The Plant Ecology lab is investigating the ecology of wild populations of Lupinus palaestinus, an endemic species growing only in Israel and under high risks of world extinction. The natural habitat of this species if confronting major fragmentation leading to the disappearance of natural populations and strong contraction of the remaining ones. Our lab is studying ex-situ conservation to conserve its gene pool and search for ways of preventing the extinction of this unique species.

Recent Publications

See full list here

Last five years only:


Smith, M.D., Wilkins, K.D., Holdrege, M.C.,   Wilfahrt, P., Collins, S.L., Knapp, A.K. ....Sternberg, M..…et al. (2024) Extreme drought impacts have been underestimated in grasslands and shrublands globally. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 121 (4), e2309881120 https://doi:10.1073/pnas.2309881120

Gupta, S.K., Ben-Dor, E.,Sternberg, M. (2024) Unveiling the Invasion: Advancing ecological mapping of Heterotheca subaxillaris through integrated remote sensing techniques with drones and satellites. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing.
https://doi: 10.1109/JSTARS.2024.3374232

Gupta, S. K., Efrati, B., Amir, O., Francos, N., Sternberg, M., Ben-Dor, E. (2023)
Smartphone-based spectroscopy as a tool to estimate soil attributes for the citizen science concept.Smart Agricultural Technology 5:100327.

Adar, S.,  Sternberg, M., Argaman, E., Henkin, Z., Dovrat, G., Zaady, E., Paz-Kagan, T. (2023) Testing a novel pasture quality index using remote sensing tools in semiarid and Mediterranean grasslands. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 357: 108674


DeMalach, N., Kigel, J., Sternberg, M. (2023) Contrasting dynamics of seed banks and standing vegetation of annuals and perennials along a rainfall gradient. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 58: 12571.


Li, J., Zhang, T., Meng, B., Rudgers, J. A., Cui, N., Zhao, T., Chai, H., Yang, X., Sternberg, M., Sun, W. (2023) Disruption of fungal hyphae suppressed litter-derived C retention in soil and N translocation to plants under drought-stressed temperate grassland. Geoderma 432: 116396 

Zhang, A., Chang, H., Liu, R., Sternberg, M. (2022) Shrub facilitative effects on the plant litter arthropod community shifts with decreasing precipitation in desertified ecosystems in northwestern China. Journal of Arid Environments 200: 104724.

Moshe, F. O. R., Sternberg, M. Ratner, T., Drori, I., Egozy, R. (2022) Customizing the Morphological Quality Index (MQI) to evaluate streams in Eastern-Mediterranean ecosystems. Environemntal Challenges 9: 100612

Adar, S., Sternberg, M.,  Paz-Kagan, T., Henkin, Z., Dovrat, G., Zaady, E., Argaman, E. (2022) Estimation of aboveground biomass production using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and VENμS satellite imagery in Mediterranean and semiarid rangelands. Remote sensing applications, 26, 100753. doi: 10.1016/j.rsase.2022.100753


Yang, T.X., Chen, J.D., Zhong, X.Y., Yang, X.C., Wang, G., Yao, Y.,  Sternberg, M., Sun W. (2022) Divergent responses of plant biomass and its allocation to the altered precipitation regimes among different degraded grasslands in China.  Plant and Soil 473, 149–166

Kozhoridze, G., Ben Dor, E., Sternberg, M. (2022) Assessing the Dynamics of Plant Species Invasion in Eastern-Mediterranean Coastal Dunes Using Cellular Automata Modeling and Satellite Time-Series Analyses. Remote Sensing  14(4):1014.

Kröel-Dulay, G., Mojzes, A., Szitár, K. …. Sternberg, M. et al. (2022) Field experiments underestimate aboveground biomass response to drought. Nature, Ecology and  Evolution.


Yang, T.X., Chen, J.D., Zhong, X.Y., Yang, X.C., Wang, G., Yao, Y.,  Sternberg, M., Sun W. (2021) Divergent responses of plant biomass and its allocation to the altered precipitation regimes among different degraded grasslands in China.  Plant and Soil  https://DOI:10.1007/s11104-021-05029-1  


Kigel, J. Konsens, I., Segev, U. Sternberg, M. (2021) Temporal stability of biomass in annual plant communities is driven by species diversity and asynchrony, but not dominance. Journal of Vegetation Science 32:e13012,


Paz-Kagan, T., Chang, J. B., Shoshany, M., Sternberg, M., Karnieli, A. (2021) Assessment of plant species distribution and diversity along a climatic gradient from Mediterranean woodlands to semi-arid shrublands. GIScience & Remote Sensing 58: 929-953. DOI: 10.1080/15481603.2021.1953770


DeMalach, N., Kigel, J., Sternberg, M. (2021) The soil seed bank buffers long-term compositional changes in annual plant communities. Journal of Ecology 109:1275–1283 https://doi:org/10.1111/1365-2745.13555


Zogas, A., Kosman, E., Sternberg, M. (2020) Germination strategies under climate change scenarios along an aridity gradient. Journal of Plant Ecology 13: 470–477, DOI:


Liu, R., Navon, Y., Steinberger Y., Sternberg, M. (2020) Effects of rainfall manipulations versus a natural aridity gradient on plant litter arthropods in desert and Mediterranean ecosystems. Applied Soil Ecology 156: 103716; DOI:


de Oliveira, G., Chen, J. M., Mataveli, G. A. V., Chaves, M. E. D., Rao, J.,  Sternberg, M., dos Santos, T. V., dos Santos, C. A. C. (2020) Evapotranspiration and precipitation over pasture and soybean areas in the Xingu River basin, an expanding Amazonian agricultural frontier. Agronomy 10, 1112; DOI: https://doi:10.3390/agronomy10081112    


Raviv, B. Khadka, J. Swetha, B., Singiri, J. R., Grandhi, R., Shapira, E.,  Novoplansky, N., Gutterman, Y., Galis, I., Sternberg, M., Grafi, G. (2020) Extreme drought alters progeny dispersal unit properties of winter wild oat (Avena sterilis L.). Planta 252:77


Paschalis A., Fatichi S., Zscheischler J., Ciais P., Bahn M., Sternberg M…et al. (2020) Rainfall-manipulation experiments as simulated by terrestrial biosphere models: where do we stand? Global Change Biology


Stotz, G. C., Cahill Jr J. F., Bennett, J.A., Carlyle, C. N., Bork, E. W., Askarizadeh, D.,  Bartha, S., Beierkuhnlein, C., Boldgiv, B., Brown, L., Cabido, M., Campetella, G.D., Chelli, S., Cohen, O.,  Díaz, S., Enrico, L., Ensing, D., Erdenetsetseg, D., Fidelis, A., Garris, H. G., Henry, H. A. L., Jentsch, A., Jouri, M. H., Koorem, K., Manning, P., Mitchell, R., Moora, M., Overbeck, G. E., Sternberg, M. Rooyen, M., Wellstein, C., Zobel, M., Fraser, L. (2020) Not a melting pot: plant species aggregate in their non-native range  Global Ecology & Biogeography 29:482–490 –


De Boeck, H.J., Bloor, J.M., Aerts, R., Bahn, M., Beier, C., Emmett, B.A., Estiarte, M., Grünzweig, J.M., Halbritter, A.H., Holub, P., Jentsch, A., Klem, K., Kreyling, J., Kröel‐Dulay, G., Larsen, K.S., Milcu, A., Roy, J., Sigurdsson, B.D., Smith, M.D., Sternberg, M., Vandvik, V., Wohlgemuth, T., Nijs, I., Knapp, A.K. (2020) Understanding ecosystems of the future will require more than realistic climate change experiments - A response to Korell et al. Global Change Biology; 26:e6–e7, doi:10.1111/gcb.14854


Alon, M., Sternberg, M. (2019) Effects of extreme drought on primary production, species composition and species diversity of a Mediterranean annual plant community. Journal of Vegetation Science 30:1045–1055.


Ika D.....Sternberg, M.,..... et al. (2018) Early stage litter decomposition across biomes. Science of The Total Environment 629: 1369-1394.


Sternberg, M., Golodets, C. Gutman, M., Perevolotsky, Kigel, J. Henkin, Z. (2017) No precipitation legacy effects on aboveground net primary production (ANPP) and species diversity in grazed Mediterranean grassland: a 21-year experiment. Journal of Vegetation Science 28: 260-269.


Kreyling, J., Dengler, J., Walter, J., Velev, N., Ugurlu, E., Sopotlieva, D., Ransijn, J., Picon-Cochard, C., Nijs, I., Hernandez, P., G?ler, B., von Gillhaussen, P., De Boeck, H., Bloor, J.M.G., Berwaers, S., Beierkuhnlein, C., Abu Sayed, M., Khan, A., Apostolova, I., Altan, Y., Zeiter, M., Wellstein, C., Sternberg, M., Stampfli, A., Campetella, G., Bartha, S., Bahn, M., Jentsch, A. (2017) Species richness increases resilience after drought in a continental-scale coordinated experiment. Ecology Letters 20: 1405-1413.


Sternberg, M. (2016) From America to the Holy Land: Disentangling plant traits of the invasive Heterotheca subaxillaris (Lam.) Britton & Rusby. Plant Ecology 217: 1307-1314 - doi:10.1007/s11258-016-0656-z


Estiarte, M., Vicca, S., Peñuelas, J., Fay, P.A., Kigel, J, Kröel-Dulay, G., Lellei-Kovács, E., Ogaya, R., Sala, O., Smith, A., Sowerby, A., Sternberg.  M., Tietema, A., Janssens, IA.  (2016) Few multi-year precipitation-reduction experiments find a shift in the productivity-precipitation relationship. Global Change Biology 22: 2570–2581 - DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13269


Rysavy, A., Seifan, M., Sternberg, M., Tielbörger, K. (2016) Neighbour effects on shrub seedling establishment override climate change impacts in a Mediterranean community. Journal of Vegetation 27: 227-237 - DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12359


Pither, J., Fraser, L. H., A. Jentsch, Sternberg, M., Zobel, M., et al. (2016) Response to comment on "Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness". Science 351: 457 – DOI: 10.1126/science.aad8019.


Lado, M., Inbar, A., Sternberg, M., Ben-Hur, M. (2016) Effectiveness of granular polyacramide to reduce soil erosion during consecutive rainstorms in a calcic regosol exposed to different fire conditions. Land Degradation & Development 27: 1453-1462 - DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2448


Fraser, L. H., Partel, M., Pither, J., Jentsch, A., Sternberg, M., Zobel, M. (2015) Response to comment on "Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness". Science 350: 1177.

DOI: 10.1126/science.aad4874


Fraser, L. H., Pither, J. Schmidt, A., Jentsch, A., Sternberg, M., Zobel, M., et al. (2015) Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness. Science 349:302-305 – DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3916


Hoffman, R., Liu, S.L., Lipkin, Y., Sternberg, M. (2015) First record of Dichotomaria cf. obtusata (J. Ellis & Solander) Lamarck (Nemaliales, Rhodophyta) in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean Marine Science 16:325-330.    


Golodets, C., Sternberg, M., Kigel, J., Boeken, B., Henkin, Z., Seligman, N. G., Ungar, E. U. (2015) Climate change scenarios of biomass production along an aridity gradient: vulnerability increases with aridity. Oecologia 177:971–979


Sternberg, M., Yakir D. (2015) Coordinated approaches for studying long-term ecosystem responses to global change: from local scales to big ecology. Oecologia 177:921–924.


Henkin, Z., Ungar, E.D., Perevolotsky, A.,Gutman, M. Yehuda, Y. Dolev, A. Landau, S., Sternberg, M., Seligman, N. G. (2015) Trade-offs between stocking rate, range productivity and livestock performance in a Mediterranean grassland. Rangeland Ecology & Management 68:332-340. 


Snir, A., Nadel, D. Groman-Yaroslavski, I. Melamed, Y., Sternberg, M. Bar-Yosef, O, Weiss, E. (2015) The origin of cultivation and proto-weeds, long before Neolithic farming PLoS One 10(7): e0131422 - DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131422. 


Fraser, L. H., Pither, J. Schmidt, A., Jentsch, A., Sternberg, M., Zobel, M., et al. (2015) Evidence to support the unimodal relationship between species richness and biomass production in herbaceous grassland communities: a globally distributed coordinated experiment. Science 349:302-305.


Sternberg, M., Golodets, C. Gutman, M., Perevolotsky, A., Ungar, E.D., Kigel, J. Henkin, Z. (2015) Testing the limits of resistance: a 19-yr study of Mediterranean grassland response to grazing regimes Global Change Biology 21: 1939-1950           doi: 10.1111/gcb.12866


Inbar, A., Ben-Hur, M., Sternberg, M., Lado, M (2015) Using polyacrylamide to mitigate post-fire soil erosion. Geoderma 239-240: 107-114.


Sternberg, M., Gabay, O., Angel, D., Barneah, O., Gafny, S., Gasith, A., Grünzweig, J.M., Hershkovitz, Y., Israel, A., Milstein, D., Rilov, G., Steinberger, Y., Zohary, T. (2015) Impacts of climate change on biodiversity in Israel - an expert assessment approach. Regional Environmental Change 15: 895-906.


Ruppert, J.C., Harmoney, K., Henkin, Z., Snyman, H.A., Sternberg, M., Willms, W., Linstädter, A. (2015) Quantifying drylands’ drought resistance and recovery: The importance of drought intensity, dominant life history and grazing regime. Global Change Biology 21: 1258-1270 – doi: 10.1111/gcb.12777




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