Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station
We aim at determining the role of genomic rearrangements in the adaptation to environmental changes. The project combines experimental evolution in ciliate microcosms to the generation of optical maps, a cutting-edge technic allowing to explore genome organization (inversions, deletions, duplications). We try to relate adaptive patterns in response to salinity stress to the target traits under selection (morphology, mobility) and the underlying genomic mechanisms. We hope to open new perspectives on the integration of under-explored molecular mechanisms in the outcome of evolution at contemporary time-scales.
Delphine Legrand, Hervé Philippe and William Marande (CNRGV, INRA).
The number and rate of anthropogenic alterations impose such intense selective pressures that biodiversity is irreversibly impacted. Plasticity and adaptability are key eco-evolutionary processes that could mitigate biodiversity loss. However, few studies have determined how the combined effects of anthropogenic stressors affect organisms’ immediate and evolutionary response.
POLLUCLIM will first determine the plastic response to warmer and/or polluted environments on a panel of ciliate genotypes in microcosms. Then, the probability of adaptation will be assessed, and we will determine if exposure to one stressor influences the response to another stressor. Finally, adaptive patterns will be related to genetic backgrounds and mutagenesis effects of stressors.
POLLUCLIM should improve our understanding of tolerance and adaptability patterns to multiple anthropogenic stressors, with access to the underlying molecular mechanisms.
Growing evidence suggests that individuals that choose to leave a habitat are often phenotypically different from those that stay in this habitat. Moreover, individuals should benefit from settling in specific environments that maximize their fitness, which would create covariation between phenotypes and environmental conditions. The major consequences of non- random dispersal decisions that are both phenotype- and context- dependent have been recently developed under habitat choice theory.
Compared to random dispersal, this theory predicts that habitat choice based dispersal should generate spatial heterogeneity of phenotypes and thus lead to drastically different consequences for a variety of ecological and evolutionary dynamics such as range distribution, metapopulation dynamics and local adaptation. However, our comprehension of what drives the evolution of habitat choice and its ensuing consequences remains weak, especially because of the lack of experimental approaches dedicated to testing theoretical predictions. This research project thus aims at identifying the environmental drivers of habitat choice evolution, and quantify its consequences for ecological dynamics.To do so, I will adopt an experimental approach using spatially explicit microcosms of an actively dispersing ciliate. This experimental system offers an excellent opportunity to validate theoretically-derived predictions and thus to provide breakthrough advances on the environmental drivers and consequences of dispersal evolution.
Human-induced alterations are profoundly modifying biodiversity. Mountain lakes constitute important water reservoirs with high patrimonial value.
They are however especially vulnerable to the accumulation of anthropic pressures, some of them showing signs of eutrophication. In this project, we aim at characterizing the role of protists in the eutrophication process of Pyrenean mountain lakes at several spatial and temporal scales.Using an interdisciplinary approach merging metagenomics, metabarcoding, paleoecology (study of sediment cores), and protist microcosm experiments, we will try to reconstruct the dynamics and functioning of these ecosystems.
The interactions between organisms affect gene and ecosystem diversity. Given that most species are constantly challenged by both mutualistic and parasitic microorganisms, we propose that mutualism and parasitism could influence each other.
Here, using plants as a model we will test the hypothesis that parasitism and mutualism impact the evolution of each other. To do this, we first propose (Partner 1) to identify genes involved in parasitism or mutualism using genetic approaches (GWAS, selection scans) and to compare their evolution within species of two deeply divergent clades of land plants, angiosperms and liverworts, including in species in which mutualism was lost (e.g., Arabidopsis thaliana and Marchantia polymorpha).
Then, through phylogenomic approaches across the entire embryophyte phylogeny (Partner 2), we will finely describe the evolution of these genes and infer selective processes to understand how selection can manage the interplay between mutualism and parasitism.
Effects of the Urbanization imposes important selection pressures on organisms, yet our understanding of how anthropogenic impacts often relies on small scale studies that focus on one population and one impact. In this project, we have created a network of labs within France to study anthropogenic impacts in a common songbird, the great tit, across 6 replicate urban-rural population pairs.
We will directly measure pollution at each site (heavy metals, pesticides) as well as overall fitness, characterize the microbiome, and look for genetic signatures of past selection associated with urbanization. In addition, we will conduct experimental studies to examine the impact of urbanization on cognitive performance in the wild and how light and sound pollution impact cognitive performance in captivity. As a whole, this study will provide a much larger scale assessment of how anthropogenic pollution impacts songbirds.
S. Massemin is lead PI, U. Strasbourg; A. Chaine (SETE) and P. Heeb (Toulouse) are co-PIs with 5 other labs
Finally, we will examine the genetic basis of variation in cognitive performance and social competence. To achieve these goals, we will use a combination of experiments in the SETE aviaries as well as experiments in the field using a newly developed field cognitive testing device. Together, the elements of this study will provide a new perspective on how cognition and social plasticity interact as well as both the causes and consequences of inter-individual variation in those traits.
A. Chaine (SETE) ; Co-PIs : A. Charmantier (Montpellier), P. Heeb (Toulouse), N. Claidière (Aix en Provence)
One of the key questions facing ecological researchers today is how animals adjust their movements to new changes in their environment linked to human activity. However, our understanding of the behavior of sparrows in their natural environment, and in particular in the face of anthropogenic activity, remains limited, as tools to track small sparrows do not currently exist.In this project, we are collaborating with the company Xerius, (http://xerius.fr) which has unique expertise in radio frequency technology and animal telemetry to develop a new micro-plotter suitable for small passerines. With these new tracers, we will examine how urbanization influences movements, territoriality, and social interactions.
PIs: P. Heeb (Toulouse) is lead PI with Xerius Microsystems as the private partner; co-PIs : A. Chaine (SETE), A. Gregoire (Montpellier)
PIs: A. Chaine at SEEM and C. Thebaud at Toulouse
The exponential development of human activity over the past two centuries has profoundly changed the environment in which we live in. In particular, urbanisation, industrialisation and intensive agriculture have generated, and still generate, various forms of pollution that play a major role in the loss of biodiversity and the global warming observed worldwide.
To carry out environmental policies of conservation and sustainable development, it is essential to understand by what mechanisms the pollution produced by human activity contributes to the degradation of ecosystems. This requires being able to both quantify the different types of pollution present and the responses of organisms to these environmental stresses in a fine and integrative manner. There are currently no tools to meet this challenge across an entire territory.
With Econect, we propose to develop new environmental sentinel systems and deploy them in the Occitanie region. These real field laboratories, autonomous, connected and scalable, will be able to both measure the pollution present in water, air or soil and the response to these stresses from bio-indicator organisms (freshwater algae, honey bee and great tit). The technological challenges and innovation related to this project are related to the development of new sensors, automatic and remote data recovery, and the management of a continuous and massive flow of data.This project brings together manufacturers for the development of sentinel systems (Beeguard; Select Design) as well as data management (Adict Solutions). A network of 12 environmental sentinel systems will then be deployed in Occitanie according to three ecological gradients (altitude, urbanization and type of agriculture) characterised via a spatial analysis of land use and pollutants (Heavy metals, Pesticides). We will use a participatory science protocol (schools, associations, beekeepers, ornithologists, farmers) both for the local management of the equipment and to raise awareness of environmental issues in our region. For more information, check out : econect.cnrs.fr
OPCC ADAPYR is a unifying project of the Pyrenees in terms of observation, capitalization, transfer of knowledge and good practices towards resilience and adaptation to climate change. Its objectives are to systematize the monitoring of climate impacts in the Pyrenees and to define a common Pyrenean adaptation strategy to climate change.
Along with the Communauté de Travail des Pyrénées, 12 beneficiary organizations and 30 partner organisations from all over the Pyrenees will bring and share their knowledge and work on the impacts, vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in various fields such as flora, fauna, lakes and peat bogs, glaciers, forests, forests, watersheds, natural hazards or the study of climate. The partner SETE, represented by Fabien Aubret, studies within the framework of ADAPYR the effects of climate change on the ecology of a lizard species endemic to the Pyrenees, the Bonnal lizard). Iberolacerta lizards are all endemic to the Pyrenees, registered on the IUCN world red list (2015) and benefit from a National Action Plan supported by Nature Midi-Pyrénées (NMP).
The study will make it possible to identify the populations of Iberolacerta bonnali on the Pyrenean chain, and to propose sustainable development strategies in the face of climate change in order to limit the loss of biodiversity.
The study will sample populations of Iberolacerta bonnali, experimentally assess their physiological adaptations to high life and propose sustainable development strategies in the face of climate change in order to limit the loss of biodiversity.
Impact of urbanization on tiger snakes in the wetlands of Perth and surrounding areas. This research project (Doctoral Thesis) measures whether and how environmental degradation by urbanization and pollution makes vertebrates in wetlands more susceptible to diseases and parasites, by comparing the health status and ecology populations of tiger snakes along geographic and historical gradients.
This project assesses the degradation of wetland health (habitat structure and water quality) through an urban matrix to determine the effects of bioaccumulation of contaminants in tiger snakes, the effects of degradation of wetlands on parasitism in tiger snakes and integrate all information to determine whether tiger snakes can be used as an ecological indicator of wetland health.
Pr Bill Bateman (Curtin University, Perth, Australie), Fabien Aubret (SETE), Monique Gagnon (Curtin University, Perth, Australie), Damian Lettoof (PhD student).
Yet, it is anticipated that hydroregulation and thermoregulation will influence each other through complex, possibly conflicting pathways leading to ecological responses to climate change difficult to predict by focusing solely on thermal biology. How this interplay between thermoregulation and hydroregulation influences vulnerability to climate change remains largely unknown because we lack studies that examine jointly hydro- and thermoregulation strategies involved in response to climate change. One promising and comprehensive approach to tackle this problem is to use heat, mass and water budget models that are robust and sufficiently general to be applied to a large range of study systems.
Here, we will use ecophysiology and behavioural ecology to enhance our understanding of this critical facet in terrestrial ectotherms. Focusing on squamate reptiles (lizards and snakes), we will combine mechanistic biophysical models, empirical studies of physiological and behavioural traits at the individual and population levels using two model species from two French Mountain ranges, climate niche simulations for these species, and comparative analyses across all squamate reptiles. We will be able to describe and understand for the first time the covariation patterns between thermoregulation and hydroregulation, and to investigate and improve our capacity to predict ecological effects of two global change pressures (temperature and water) in terrestrial ectotherms.
This approach will provide new insights on the role of proximate functional traits in determining species distribution and sensitivity to climate change, and translate into knowledge applicable in other terrestrial ectotherms and wildlife management.