Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station

The Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling (CTMB)

Research Projects



BIOSTASES (BIOdiversity, STAbility and sustainability in Spatial Ecological and social-ecological Systems) proposes an ambitious innovative research program that aims to provide new perspectives on the functioning, stability, and sustainability of ecological and coupled social–ecological systems in the face of environmental changes.

By doing so, it will contribute to bridging the gaps between theoretical and empirical ecology and between ecology and social sciences, and to developing new approaches in biodiversity conservation, landscape management, and sustainable development.


This project is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No 666971).


The overarching goal of BIOSTASES is to develop a coherent body of new theory on the stability of ecosystems and coupled social–ecological systems and its relationships with biodiversity at multiple spatial scales that can inform empirical ecology, landscape management, and sustainable development.

BIOSTASES is organized around four complementary themes or work packages (WPs):

➔ WP1. Ecosystem stability and early warning signals for critical transitions

WP1 will establish the theoretical foundations for the whole project. It will revisit the main stability concepts and measures used in ecology so far, clarify their properties and connections, propose an integrative mathematical framework designed to predict temporal variability as an empirically relevant measure of stability, and use this framework to predict the conditions under which changes in temporal variability patterns can serve as early warning signals for critical transitions.

➔ WP2. Ecosystem stability and diversity–stability relationships at multiple spatial scales

WP2 will develop dynamical metacommunity models to explore a wide range of novel questions related to ecosystem stability and diversity–stability relationships at multiple spatial scales, in particular the effects of non-directional and directional dispersal on ecosystem stability, the emergence of scaling laws, and the effects of various anthropogenic environmental changes on ecosystem stability at multiple spatial scales. Model predictions will be tested against available empirical data from different ecosystems.

➔ WP3. Stability of ecosystem processes and services in complex meta-ecosystems

WP3 will develop new theory on the stability of complex meta-ecosystems with multiple trophic levels and on the stability and synchrony of multiple ecosystem services in heterogeneous landscapes to provide new perspectives on the stability of food webs and on synergies and trade-offs between multiple ecosystem services across space.

➔ WP4. Sustainability of coupled social–ecological systems

WP4 will develop novel theory that includes feedbacks of biodiversity and ecosystem services on human wellbeing to study the long-term dynamics of human–nature interactions and the sustainability of coupled social– ecological systems. In particular, it will explore the spatial dynamics of these systems, the role of human behavioural changes in averting their possible collapse, and possible early warning signals for impending collapses.

Principal Investigator

Michel Loreau is the PI on the BIOSTASES project, working with researchers Bart Haegeman, Claire de Mazancourt, Kevin Liautaud, Matthieu Barbier, Nuria Galiana Ibanez, Pierre Quévreux, Soonmi Lee and Yuval Zelnik, supported by Dalila Booth as Project Manager.

The project is carried out at the Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, in the CNRS Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station in Moulis, France.



Climatic warming and habitat fragmentation are the largest threats to biodiversity and ecosystems globally.

To forecast and mitigate their effects is the environmental challenge of our age.

Despite substantial progress on the ecological consequences of climatic warming and habitat fragmentation individually, there is a fundamental gap in our understanding and prediction of their combined effects.


This project is funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No 726176).


The goal of FRAGCLIM is to determine the individual and combined effects of climatic warming and habitat fragmentation on biodiversity, community dynamics, and ecosystem functioning in complex multitrophic communities.

To achieve this, it uses an integrative approach that combines the development of new theory on metacommunities and temperature-dependent food web dynamics in close dialogue with a unique long-term aquatic mesocosm experiment.

It is articulated around five objectives.

In the first three, FRAGCLIM will determine the effects of

1. warming

2. fragmentation

3. warming and fragmentation combined, on numerous facets of biodiversity, community structure, food web dynamics, spatial and temporal stability, and key ecosystem functions.

Then, it will 4. investigate the extent of evolutionary thermal adaptation to warming and isolation due to fragmentation, and its consequences for biodiversity dynamics.

Finally, 5. it will provide creative solutions to mitigate the combined effects of warming and fragmentation.

FRAGCLIM proposes an ambitious integrative and innovative research programme that will provide a much-needed new perspective on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of warming and fragmentation. It will greatly contribute to bridging the gaps between theoretical and empirical ecology, and between ecological and evolutionary responses to global change.

FRAGCLIM will foster links with environmental policy by providing new mitigation measures to climate change in fragmented systems that derive from our theoretical and empirical findings.

Principal Investigator

Jose Montoya is the PI on the FRAGCLIM project, working with researchers Bart Haegeman, Cara Faillace, Elvire Bestion, Simon Blanchet and Soraya Alvarez-Codesal, supported by Dalila Booth as Project Manager and Alexandre Garreau, Technician.

Several postdocs and PhD students will be recruited during the course of the project.

The project is carried out at the Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, in the CNRS Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station in Moulis, France.



The Ecological Networks and Global Change research group (EcoNetGC) investigates the structure, dynamics and functioning of networks of species interactions, and the consequences of different components of global change on them. We study different network types (predator-prey, host-parasitoid, free-living mutualists, and bacterial symbionts and their hosts) and global change components (climate change, habitat loss). To answer our questions, we use a multidisciplinar perspective, using concepts, models and techniques from ecology, evolution, physics, genetics, or molecular biology. We adopt an integrative approach, combining mathematical and simulation models, analyses of large datasets, and manipulative experiments on mesocosms.

Research interests 

➔ Structure, dynamics and fragility of ecological networks

We study the networks of interactions among species in different ecosystems. We search for universal patterns in their structure, which reflect evolutionary and ecological processes, and we also investigate the eco-evolutionary dynamics of these networks. Ecological networks are fundamental for predicting the effects of different perturbations that eventually trigger species extinctions.

➔ Ecology, evolution and robustness of microbe-host interaction networks

One of the biggest challenges in eco-evolutionary studies of species interaction networks is to introduce the largest component of biodiversity on Earth: prokaryotes. Using next-generation sequencing techniques, we are addressing this challenge. focusing on the fascinating complex system composed of sponge and corals hosts and their associated prokaryotes.

➔ Climate change effects on community structure and the carbon cycle

Climate change is real. There is ample evidence that ecological responses are already occurring at the individual species level. But scaling from populations through to communities, let alone ecosystems, will be challenging. We use ecological theory and manipulative mesocosm experiments to investigate the effects of climatic warming on community structure and ecosystem service supply.

➔ Network complexity and ecosystem functioning 

Biodiversity loss and the disruption of species interactions affects the functioning of ecosystems. We investigate how changes in species interactions and species traits results in further changes on ecosystem functions, like pest control and the carbon cycle.

➔ Habitat loss and species invasion in ecological networks 

Habitat loss and degradation is still the major cause of biodiversity loss worldwide. Invaders and exotic species are more likely to be established within degraded habitats containing less biodiversity. Using a network perspective, we are investigating theoretical and experimentally these combined effects and the resulting emerging ecosystems.

➔ The spatio-temporal dimension of ecological networks

Ecological networks are dynamic, although most studies use static versions of them to identify structural properties. This hampers our ability to tease apart natural network variation through time and space, in comparison to variation caused by human-induced disturbances as habitat loss or climate change. We investigate whether and how these patterns hold through different temporal (seasonal, interannual, deep-time) and spatial (local to global) scales.

Principal Investigator

Jose M. Montoya is director of the Ecological Networks and Global Change Research Group, working with Technician Alexandre Garreau, Project Manager Dalila Booth, Postdoctoral fellows including Cara Faillace, Elvire Bestion, Miguel Lurgi, Vinicius Bastazini and PhD students: Soonmi Lee, Soraya Alvarez-Codesal and Ioar de Guzman

The group is based at the Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, in the CNRS Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station in Moulis, France.

For more informations, visit our website:

TheoMoDive Research Group

 Integrative theories and models for the study of biodiversity

Biodiversity loss is, alongside with climate change, one of the greatest challenges that societies will face during the present and following centuries. This is why integrative scientific approaches to study biodiversity are rising and links between research and decision-making are being strengthened by the recently created intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

However, the scientific community dedicated to the study of biodiversity does not yet have access to powerful integrative tools, such as those available to climatologists for predicting climate changes, like global circulation models.

Integrating multiple factors of biodiversity change, multiple taxonomic and functional groups, and the effects of biodiversity changes on the functioning and dynamics of ecological and social systems in biodiversity modelling is still a major scientific challenge.

Therefore, careful consideration of the relevance, feasibility and limitations of integrative predictive biodiversity models is needed.

The Groupement De Recherche Théorie et Modélisation de la Biodiversité - GDR TheoMoDive ("Theory and Modelling of Biodiversity” Research Group) has been set up to provide the French scientific community with a platform where different approaches can be assessed and the research efforts of different groups can be coordinated to catalyse the elaboration of a solid body of fundamental theory, as well as predictive models of biodiversity changes and their impacts on ecological and social systems.

TheoMoDive’s main themes of research are centred on a few hot topics, in which the French scientific community has specific strengths. The working groups linked to these themes bring together research teams that are at the forefront of theoretical research on these topics internationally.

By stimulating scientific debates, the confrontation of different theoretical developments and their application to empirical data, the TheoMoDive working groups aim to contribute to the emergence of more robust and powerful theories and models.



The next General Meeting will take place in Moulis from the 15th until the 17th of October 2019.

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