Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station

EN - LINKING - Projects

LINKING

Research Projects

CCISS

Introduction

CCISS (Climate Change Impacts on wild SpecieS - pronounced "Kiss") has an overarching research theme to contribute to our understanding of the current and future impacts of climate change on wild species, including their societal impacts, and thereby contribute to forming scientifically-sound climate change policies. 

More than two decades have passed since it became clear that anthropogenic warming was causing general trends for poleward/upward range shifts and phenological advancement of spring events.  While these general trends receive continued support, a more sophisticated understanding of impacts has been challenging.  Why do different sympatric species show different responses to the same climatic events and trends?  How, in turn, are individualistic responses affecting species' interactions, and ultimately ecosystem functions?

Funding

 

CCISS is a grant from the French Make Our Planet Great Again (MOPGA) Program to Camille Parmesan

On 1 June 2017, in response to the United States’ decision to leave the Paris Agreement, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, called on researchers and teachers, entrepreneurs, associations and NGOs, students and the civil society to mobilize and join France in the fight against global warming. In July, this call was followed by Germany, illustrating the desire of both France and Germany to be at the forefront of the fight against climate change.

This gave rise to the “Make Our Planet Great Again” international research initiative (funded by the Secrétariat Général Pour l’Investissement (SGPI) and the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)), which is managed by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and l’Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) on behalf of all French research organizations, and by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) in Germany.

Objectives

The strength of the CCISS team is in linking impacts of climatic trends and extreme climate events on ecological, evolutionary and behavioural processes at the population level to patterns of biodiversity change at the global level.  CCISS focuses on impacts of climate change on species' ranges and how sensitivities to climate change interacts with local adaptations and what that means for the potential and limitations of evolutionary adaptation to global warming.

CCISS moves this research into new areas, assessing  (a) Impacts of societal importance: e.g. changes in human disease risk as a consequence of range shifts of disease organisms, their wild vectors and reservoirs; and (b) Impacts in high-risk habitats: assessing climate change risks for species inhabiting montane and boreal regions, that are under-studied but vulnerable systems.

Tackling impacts of global climate change at the population level, through working simultaneously in the field in wild populations combined with controlled experiments in a lab and greenhouse setting provides a flexible and robust platform for exploring uncertainty in future impacts, and incorporating that uncertainty into conservation planning for the coming century.  


A third pillar of CCISS is exploration of creative outreach avenues.  In a 2017 survey conducted across France, Germany, UK and Norway climate change was not perceived by the public in any country as one of the most important problems facing their country (EPCC 2017).  Climate denial is currently on the rise among both the populace and policy-makers in the UK and USA.  These statistics emphasize that outreach is as important as research in the field of climate change impacts.  CCISS is developing multiple media platforms to translate climate change research findings into formats that are more accessible to the public and policy-makers, and provide positive and actionable messages.

Leader

Camille Parmesan is PI of this project, with a diverse team of researchers and artists. Principal researchers are Rob Lempert (RAND Corporation), Julio Postigo (Univ. of Indiana) and Michael C. Singer (CNRS-SETE). Visiting researchers are Jayme Lewthwaite, Kumar Mainali and Stavana Strutz. CCISS is in the process of recruiting post-docs for these projects.

Outreach and art projects are in collaboration with Dalila Booth, filmmaker Heidi Morstang (University of Plymouth, UK), cinematographer Patrik Säfström (Norway), Impact Media Lab (Colorado, USA) with Kika Tuff and Matthew Talarico, and the NGO Other Story (Denmark) with Cecilie Jørck and Madeleine Kate McGowan.  

BIOSTASES

Introduction

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.

 Funding

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

Objectives

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.


Leader

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

FRAGCLIM

Introduction

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.

Funding

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

Objectives

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

Leader

Jose Montoya is the PI on the FRAGCLIM project, working with researchers Alexios Synodinos, 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.

iBEF

Intraspecific diversity as a major component of Biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships

Introduction

Understanding the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEFs) has major implications. Most BEFs studies have focused on mechanisms operating at the interspecific level, although biodiversity also comprises an intraspecific facet that could be important for ecosystem functioning.

The main objectives of iBEF are to quantify the influence of intraspecific diversity on ecosystem functions, to unravel mechanisms linking intraspecific diversity to ecosystem multifunctionality and to integrate further intraspecific diversity into the BEF framework and into conservation policies.

iBEF focuses on ten species living in river ecosystems and interacting within a trophic network (from producers to secondary consumers).

The project combines observational and experimental approaches and is structured into four tasks, each fulfilling ambitious and novel objectives.

Funding

This project is funded by the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche and by the labex Tulip.

Objectives

This project will generate novel results that should lead to a major rethinking of the BEF framework that would rest on an integrative view of the relationships between the environmental drivers, intra- and interspecific diversity, and ecosystem functions.

The iBEF project will also favour the general acceptance that intraspecific diversity should be preserved and managed efficiently, not only because it is the raw for evolution to occur, but also because its loss would significantly erode the way ecosystems function and the services they provide.

IBEF IS ORGANIZED AROUND THREE COMPLEMENTARY TASKS

➔ Determinate whether intraspecific diversity substantially contributes to ecosystem functioning in the wild.
Using observational data in the wild synthetizing local scale measures of intra- and interspecific richness and of environmental conditions, we will quantify the effects of intraspecific diversity on key ecological functions (primary productivity, secondary productivity and nutrient cycling). We will further test how much of the variability in ecosystem multifunctionality is due to direct effects of intraspecific diversity, to direct effects of environmental drivers, and to indirect effects of environmental drivers mediated by intraspecific diversity.

➔ Etablish the relative importance of intra- vs. interspecific diversity on ecosystem functioning, while controlling for other drivers.
We will use mesocosm experiments focusing on five of the ten species and varying simultaneously intra- and interspecific richness to test how much of the variability in ecosystem functioning is due to changes in each of these two facets of biodiversity.

➔ Determinate the relative importance of intraspecific diversity on ecological functions compared to the effect of climate warming.
We will use an experimental approach varying both intraspecific richness (in the same five species than in task 2) and water temperature to tease apart direct effects due to warming and intraspecific diversity, as well as indirect effects of warming mediated by intraspecific diversity on ecosystem multifunctionality.

➔  Dedicated to communicate our results to other scientists, but also to environmental managers as our project will inform on how much of ecosystem functions is loss when loosing intraspecific richness, and hence why it is important to conserve this facet of biodiversity.

Leader

Simon Blanchet is the PI on the iBEF project, working with researchers José Montoya, Julien Cucherousset, Mickaël Danger, Murielle Richard, Jérôme Prunier, Allan Raffard and Loïc Tudesque

ISOLAPOP

ISOLement Anthropique des POPulations

INTRODUCTION

Fish introduced in mountain environments in the 19th century are susceptible to act as a barrier in rivers that could induce population isolation of Pyrenean brook newt, an endemic amphibian. ISOLAPOP project aims to study this newts-fish interaction, at ecological and socio-economic levels, in order to propose a durable management plan.

Funding

This project is funded by the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche.

Objectives

Introduced species, if they became invasive, could alter ecosystems functioning. Stocking in lakes and rivers is a common practice around the globe, giving fishermen sufficient number of fish. In the Pyrenean Mountains, various farmed fish species were introduced since the 19th century, first for tourists’ alimentation, then recently for recreational fishery. Those anthropic activities constitute a significant part of the local economy, without questioning potential impacts on biodiversity.Those introductions could have constrained patrimonial species populations, such as Pyrenean brook newt (Calotriton asper), by limiting the species presence in stocking zones (by predation, disturbance or competition) or by genetic isolation, increasing extinction risk. Isolation effect on biodiversity induced by human activities was poorly studied. Complex interactions between biological and socioeconomic systems (abiotic environnement – trophic resources – stocking – newts) in a common territory are the core of the ISOLAPOP project.

Based on collaborative multi-actors actions and on multi-scales interdisciplinary approaches (historical socio-economic and ecological analyses, experimental ecology, populations survey on the field and modelisation), the ISOLAPOP project aims to understand the effects of this anthropic isolation in order to integrate them in a model that could predict management plan efficiency on newts and fish populations in a context of climate change. The main objective is to propose durable management plans of a vulnerable territory, combining biodiversity conservation and piscicultural resource exploitation.

Leaders

Audrey Trochet, Hugo Le Chevalier, Marine Deluen, Olivier Calvez, Olivier Guillaume and Simon Blanchet are working on this project.

Follow ISOLAPOP on Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/projet.isolapop

EMPAT

Detection, distribution and impacts of an emerging parasite (Tetracapsuloides brysalmonae) in brow trout (Salmo trutta) populations

Funding

This project is funded by the Agence Française pour la Biodiversité.

Leader

Simon Blanchet, Lisa Jacquin and Géraldine Loot are the co-PIs. Eloïse Duval is working on that project.

CONAQUAT

Biological connectivity in aquatic ecosystems: quantification, modelling and mitigation

Funding

Région Occitanie and the Agence Française pour la Biodiversité.

Leaders

Simon Blanchet is the PI. Jérôme Prunier, Delphine Legrand, Thomas Deruelles, Olivier Calvez, Michèle Huet, Sylvain Moulherat and Sylvain Pioch are working on the project.

TROUTCONNECT

Quantification of brown trout (Salmo trutta) movements in impacted rivers: the utility of molecular markers

Funding

This project is funded by the Electricité de France and the Agence Française pour la Biodiversité.

Leaders

Simon Blanchet is the PI. Kéoni Saint-Pé, Julien Cucherousset and Géraldine Loot are working on the project.

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EN - LINKING - Researchs

LINKING

Research Themes

Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning across scales

One of the main current challenges of biodiversity science is to understand and predict how biodiversity changes will affect ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services on which humans depend directly or indirectly, such as biomass production, water purification, erosion control, pollination, and pest and disease control.

We address this issue theoretically using dynamical ecosystem models to understand the mechanisms through which biodiversity affects ecosystem functioning and predict its impacts on ecosystem services (Michel Loreau, Claire de Mazancourt, Jose Montoya, Bart Haegeman). In particular, we develop new theory to scale up local biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships to larger spatial scales and to natural conditions under which biodiversity is not controlled experimentally (Michel Loreau, Claire de Mazancourt), and new theory on the importance of biodiversity for ecosystem functioning as environmental variation changes (Bart Haegeman, Jose Montoya). We also use models to analyse synergies and trade-offs between multiple ecosystem services, in particular crop production, crop pollination and biological control in agricultural landscapes (Michel Loreau, Claire de Mazancourt). In parallel, we test these mechanisms by performing experiments on various ecosystem types (plant and soil communities, pelagic ecosystems, river communities) in which we manipulate different dimensions of biodiversity (Simon Blanchet, Jose Montoya). While we mostly focus on changes in species diversity within one trophic level, we expand our focus in two directions:

(1) by testing whether intraspecific diversity is an important determinant of the functioning of ecosystems in mesocosms and in complex natural landscapes (Simon Blanchet, ANR and Tulip); and

(2) by manipulating species richness in competitive communities (Jose Montoya) and across multiple trophic levels, which are either antagonistic (predator-prey systems, Jose Montoya) or mutualistic (plant-symbiont systems, Grégoire Freschet, SYNERSYS Tulip Grant).

In addition to manipulations of biodiversity per se, we investigate, both theoretically and experimentally, the environmental conditions associated to global change under which biodiversity becomes more important for ecosystem functioning; e.g., increased climatic variability associated with climate change (Simon Blanchet, Montoya), stressful regimes (drought, nutrient limitation) associated to climate and land-use changes (Grégoire Freschet).

Biodiversity and ecosystem stability across scales

One critical aspect of ecosystem functioning is its stability. Ecological stability is key to both the maintenance of biodiversity and the sustainability of human societies as fluctuations of ecosystem services often have detrimental effects.

We are developing a whole body of new theory to define and understand the various dimensions of ecological stability and to understand and predict how ecosystem stability and its relationship with biodiversity change across multiple spatial scales. In particular, we seek to establish connections between different empirical and theoretical stability measures, and we are building new theory on the stability of food webs and on the stability of metacommunities at multiple spatial scales using invariability as an empirically relevant measure of stability (Michel Loreau, BIOSTASES ERC Grant, Claire de Mazancourt, Bart Haegeman).

In addition, we develop new theory on the impacts of changing network structure on different facets of ecosystem stability, with a strong emphasis on the effects associated to habitat changes (loss and fragmentation) (Jose Montoya).

Climate change impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems

More than two decades have passed since it became clear that anthropogenic warming was driving observed changes in wild species. The LINKING team aims at gaining a comprehensive and coherent view of the effects of climate change on biodiversity across levels of organization (i.e., from individuals to ecosystems), temporal scales (i.e., from ecological to evolutionary timescales), and spatial extents (i.e., from semi-natural mesocosms to geographic range shifts in the wild) (Camille Parmesan MOPGA grant, IPCC/GEIC). In parallel, the team develops new theory on the combined effects of climate change and other global change stressors. A strong focus is on the interactive effects of warming and habitat fragmentation on biodiversity, community dynamics and ecosystem functioning. Such theoretical developments will be tested experimentally in controlled laboratory conditions and on semi-natural aquatic mesocosm experiments (Jose Montoya, FRAGCLIM ERC Grant, Simon Blanchet).

We also seek to improve understanding and future projections of responses to climate change in the phenology and geographic range of wild species. We link impacts of climatic trends and extreme climatic events on ecological, evolutionary and behavioural processes at the population level to patterns of biodiversity changes at the global level. Two new areas focus our attention:

(1) climate change impacts of societal importance, such as changes in human disease risk as a consequence of range shifts of disease organisms, their wild vectors and reservoirs; and

(2) climate change impacts in high-risk habitats, by assessing climate change risks for species inhabiting montane and boreal regions, two understudied but vulnerable systems (Camille Parmesan).

Long-term dynamics and sustainability of human-nature interactions

Linking biodiversity, ecosystems and people ultimately requires understanding and predicting the long-term dynamics of the coupled social-ecological systems that result from human-nature interactions. We develop novel models that include human-nature feedbacks together with changes in human behaviour to investigate the long-term dynamics and sustainability of coupled social-ecological systems and their ability to keep providing ecosystem services to a growing human population.

A key focus of our current work is on the spatial dynamics of coupled social-ecological systems that are connected by trade, species dispersal and human dispersal as our preliminary work suggests that spatial movements can strongly affect the sustainability of these systems (Michel Loreau).

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EN - CTMB - Projects

CBTM

Research Projects

Ecological Networks and Global Change Research Group

Introduction

Welcome to the Ecological Networks and Global Change research group (EcoNetGC). We investigate 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.

The team

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, Alexios Synodinos and PhD students: 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.

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.

For more information, visit our website: https://sites.google.com/site/theomodive/

 

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EN - CHANGE - Projects

CHANGE

Research Themes


Fitness impacts of genomes and phenomes

Phenotypic traits and genes are the nexus of eco-evolutionary studies. However, it is well known that different selective strengths and directions can simultaneously operate on genes and traits within a population, challenging our ability to correctly interpret evolutionary patterns.

On the one hand, we describe phenotypic traits structure in various taxa, and their potential organization in syndromes, i.e., suites of correlated traits. We relate the described phenotypic strategies to potential fitness benefits or costs. The comparison of closely related species helps us tackle these questions at both the intra- and interspecific levels. Our team specifically studies pollination syndromes in orchids, predatory syndromes in snakes, and dispersal syndromes in lizards and protists. We also study a series of complex traits across all our model species like sociality, cooperation, communication, movement, cognitive ability, senescence, habitat preference and cell organization.

On the other hand, we study the impact of genome structure on phenotypic trait correlations and fitness. Two model systems are being investigated in particular: transposable elements in orchids, and the singular structure of the ciliate macronucleus (e.g. high and variable chromosome copy number). Our long-term objective is to establish multidimensional maps of genomes and phenomes, shedding light on correlations and independencies between a significant number of their dimensions.


Interactions between eco-evolutionary processes in changing environments

Biodiversity response to environmental changes is a timely scientific and societal issue due to global change. However, we are far from accurately predicting the impact of environmental changes on organisms’ persistence because we still lack a comprehensive view of the interactions between the processes at work.

CHANGE assesses how selection on pre-existing or new variation, plasticity and/or dispersal allow organisms to track environmental changes in the short (within a generation and across a few generations) and long term (tens to thousands of generations).

We measure the fitness of organisms in a set of contrasted natural or experimental conditions. In particular, we focus on responses to environmental gradients in long-term field surveys in the Pyrenees and the Cevennes to study, e.g., natural variation in altitude, hypoxia, temperature and land use. We also study habitat fragmentation, climate change, pollution and their interactions by running experiments in nature and in SETE experimental facilities (terrestrial metatron, microcosms).


Molecular bases of adaptation

The ability of organisms to express phenotypes matching changing environments is directly linked to the molecular mechanisms involved.

Genetic, but also non-genetic, modifications can lead to the phenotypic changes that allow organisms to track environmental changes. Linking evolution of complex phenotypes to their molecular bases thus provides key information on the response time and stability of organismal adaptation.

We use whole-genome, transcriptome, and epigenome approaches to relate phenotypic modifications, either fixed or plastic, to their underlying molecular mechanisms. Epigenetic modifications or changes in ploidy (in the macronucleus of ciliates) could particularly allow sub-optimal genotypes to rapidly reach a fitness optimum through plastic changes until genetic assimilation.

We focus on the molecular determinants of traits highly influencing fitness like e.g., cognition in birds or ciliary organization in ciliates.

We use experimental evolution to study the dynamics of genetic and non-genetic modifications. We will especially search for the existence of (epi)genetic constrains that are responsible for phenotypic syndrome evolution in snakes, orchids and ciliates.


Role of intraspecific variability on the dynamics and functioning of populations, communities and ecosystems

The functioning and dynamics of biological systems can be very different depending on phenome and genome assemblages. In addition, some strategies such as rapid growth, species interactions and genomic insertions can ensure short-term success, but long-term vulnerability depending on the global dynamics of populations, communities or ecosystems.

We study the impact of intra- and interspecific variability on the dynamics of biological systems through ecological and evolutionary times.

We relate demography, ecosystem productivity, and species diversification to phenome and/or genome variability.

We especially develop concerted experiments across taxa, labs and countries to gain in the generality of the responses obtained.

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CBTM

Research Themes

Phylogenetics and the generation of biodiversity

Knowledge of the phylogenetic history of living organisms is a prerequisite to a full understanding of biodiversity. Phylogenetic reconstruction and dating turn out to be extremely difficult. Although the availability of genomic data partly alleviates the problem, improvement in models remains necessary. 

We are interested in understanding molecular evolution to develop more accurate models, applying these new methods to the resolution of the Tree of Life, and studying the relationship between phylogeny and ecological niches.

We focus on the origin and evolution of eukaryotes (in particular animals and photosynthetic organisms) and analyse genomic and paleontological data in the light of the inferred phylogenies and their diversification pattern..

People involved in this research theme: Arnaud di Franco, Hervé Philippe.

Eco-evolutionary dynamics, from genes to ecosystems

Ecology does not make sense except in the light of evolution; reciprocally, evolution does not make sense except in the light of ecology. The intimate feedbacks that link ecological and evolutionary dynamics operate not only over long timescales to constrain current patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, but also over shorter timescales to constrain the responses of species and ecosystems to current global environmental changes. We integrate ecology and evolution to understand the role of eco-evolutionary dynamics in the emergence of structure and organisation in complex ecosystems or ecological networks, and its role in the responses of populations and communities to environmental changes. We do this by developing new theory, phylogenetic methods, and experimental manipulations in mesocosms, applying them to patterns across different scales of biological organisation, from genomes to hyper-diverse microbiomes. 

People involved in this research theme: Soraya Alvarez-Codesal, Cara Faillace, Elvire Bestion, Alexandre Garreau, Claire de Mazancourt, Michel Loreau, Jose Montoya, Bart Haegeman, Hervé Philippe.

Structure, dynamics and biogeography of ecological networks

Ecosystems are not random additions of species. Ever since Darwin coined his metaphor of the "entangled bank”, ecologists have tried to decipher how and why species coexist in complex networks of biotic interactions. Ecological networks depict the specific arrangement of biotic interactions between species within ecosystems. They help to understand how biodiversity is organised, generated and maintained. In addition, the structure of ecological networks determines the dynamics of populations and ecosystems, and mediates a number of ecosystem processes and services. We study the relationship between the structure, dynamics and functioning of species networks belonging to different habitat types. We mostly focus on food webs, but we also study symbiotic interactions and multiple interaction types. Lately, we have become interested in changes in network structure and dynamics at biogeographical extents and in the determinants of the geographical variability of network structure. In doing so, we combine theoretical models and large dataset analyses.

People involved in this research theme: Soonmi Lee, Nuria Galiana, Daniel Montoya, Jose Montoya

Global change effects on biodiversity

Anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity are many. Climate change and habitat loss and fragmentation are among the greatest threats to biodiversity and ecosystems globally. For example, under current policies, global warming is predicted to threaten one in six species with extinction during this century. We study the individual and combined impacts of these major threats to biodiversity at different levels of biological organization. We are interested on the impacts of global change on population- and community-level dynamics and stability, and on ecosystem structure and functioning. In doing so, we combine modelling, analyses of large datasets, and whole-ecosystem experimental manipulations.

People involved in this research theme: Soraya Alvarez, Cara Faillace, Elvire Bestion, Alexandre Garreau, Vinicius Bastazini, Michel Loreau, Jose Montoya.

Biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services

Ecosystems generate services on which humans depend directly or indirectly, such as biomass production, water purification, erosion control, pollination, and pest and disease control. One of the main challenges of biodiversity science is to understand and predict how biodiversity changes will affect the delivery of these ecosystem services. We use both manipulative experiments and dynamical models of communities and ecosystems to understand the mechanisms through which biodiversity modulates ecosystem functioning and predict its impacts on ecosystem services. We also study synergies and trade-offs between multiple ecosystem services, in particular crop production, soil fertility, crop pollination and biological control in agricultural landscapes.

People involved in this research theme: Soraya Alvarez-Codesal, Elvire Bestion, Daniel Montoya, Claire de Mazancourt, Grégoire Freschet, Michel Loreau.

Biodiversity and stability of ecological systems

One critical aspect of ecosystem functioning is its stability. Ecological stability is key to both the maintenance of biodiversity and the sustainability of human societies as fluctuations of ecosystem services often have detrimental effects. We currently focus on the development of new approaches to quantifying and understanding ecosystem stability in time and space. We also test experimentally the effects of diverse plant and symbiont communities on the stability of ecosystems functions. Stability has been defined in many different ways that have been kept separate so far. We establish connections between different stability measures, notably empirical and theoretical measures, and build a new body of theory that is relevant to empirical studies. In particular, we explore new measures of invariability, stability - area relationships, and stability across scales in metacommunities.

People involved in this research theme:  Kevin Liautaud, Robin Delsol, Matthieu Barbier, Daniel Montoya, Nuria Galiana, Pierre Quevreux, Yuval Zelnik, Claire de Mazancourt, Grégoire Freschet, Bart Haegeman, Michel Loreau, Jose Montoya. 

Habitat fragmentation and spatial dynamics of biodiversity

Virtually all ecological systems are embedded in spatial networks connected by myriad abiotic and biotic flows. As a result, processes that operate at one spatial scale can strongly influence patterns at other scales, leading to highly complex meta-systems (metacommunities, meta-ecosystems). Habitat destruction and fragmentation are a major driver of current biodiversity loss, especially in terrestrial ecosystems, and have important indirect effects on intact habitat fragments by altering spatial dynamics. We build mechanistic models to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms that govern biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at multiple spatial scales and predict the consequences of habitat destruction and fragmentation. In particular, we develop new theory to predict ecosystem stability across scales in metacommunities (in connection with the previous research theme) and integrate trophic complexity into meta-ecosystems.

People involved in this research theme: Pierre Quevreux, Matthieu Barbier, Yuval Zelnik, Daniel Montoya, Bart Haegeman, Michel Loreau, Jose Montoya.

Human-nature interactions

Human societies have major impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems, from local to global scales. In turn, they depend on biodiversity and ecosystems through a wide range of ecosystem services at multiple scales. This generates an important if poorly understood feedback loop between humans and nature. We build novel models that include this human nature feedback together with changes in human behaviour and spatial ecological dynamics to investigate the stability of coupled social-ecological systems and their ability to keep providing ecosystem services to a growing human population. Our integrative dynamical approach aims to provide new insights into the long-term sustainability of human societies and of their interactions with the rest of nature.

The CBTM is also in charge of biodiversity-related activities in the AnaEE France infrastructure project.

People involved in this research theme: Kirsten Henderson, Diego Bengochea, Claire de Mazancourt, Michel Loreau

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EN - presentation

The Station - Overview

The SETE (Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station) is a Joint Research Unit of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. It is located in the foothills of the central Pyrenees in Ariège, in Moulis, about 100km south from Toulouse.

The laboratory was first founded in 1948 to study physical and biological aspects of underground cave systems. In 2007, it was turned into an experimental ecology station, and in 2016, it became the current Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station (SETE).

Directed during this reconversion by Jean Clobert, and now by Michel Loreau since 2018, it currently hosts a team of 70 researchers, technicians, administrative staff and PhD students.

The station focuses its research on exciting new developments in theoretical and experimental ecology, in particular on biodiversity, ecosystems and the interactions between human societies with a view to contributing to their long-term sustainability.

Research

  • CTMB

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  • EEDYL

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer rhoncus felis et augue laoreet ullamcorper. Integer maximus nulla gravida, vulputate tortor id, suscipit eros. Vestibulum interdum, quam eu rhoncus varius, turpis nisi dictum nisi, aliquam egestas magna lectus eu ipsum. Nulla varius, odio facilisis porta aliquet, diam tellus aliquet enim, a dapibus nisi felis commodo massa.

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  • EVOL

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer rhoncus felis et augue laoreet ullamcorper. Integer maximus nulla gravida, vulputate tortor id, suscipit eros. Vestibulum interdum, quam eu rhoncus varius, turpis nisi dictum nisi, aliquam egestas magna lectus eu ipsum. Nulla varius, odio facilisis porta aliquet, diam tellus aliquet enim, a dapibus nisi felis commodo massa.

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CHANGE

Eco-evolutionary responses to CHANGing Environments across space, time and biological levels

LINKING

Linking biodiversity, networks, ecosystems, and people: theory and experiments

Transversal

Transversal Research Themes

CBTM

Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling

  • CTMB

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer rhoncus felis et augue laoreet ullamcorper. Integer maximus nulla gravida, vulputate tortor id, suscipit eros. Vestibulum interdum, quam eu rhoncus varius, turpis nisi dictum nisi, aliquam egestas magna lectus eu ipsum. Nulla varius, odio facilisis porta aliquet, diam tellus aliquet enim, a dapibus nisi felis commodo massa. Aliquam erat volutpat. Pellentesque magna justo, pharetra id tempor sed, lobortis id odio. Sed placerat risus ut felis aliquam varius. Curabitur a tellus nec urna vehicula elementum ac nec diam. Etiam vitae nunc nunc. Duis facilisis euismod nulla sit amet hendrerit. Nunc condimentum non massa at semper. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Nunc vitae lacinia elit, eget lacinia augue. Nulla eget nibh interdum arcu auctor.

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  • EEDYL

    Morbi tincidunt sodales augue eu interdum. Vivamus vitae blandit nisl, et rhoncus magna. Mauris facilisis viverra augue, in pulvinar odio mollis non. Sed non imperdiet sem. Ut purus nunc, vulputate eget sem eget, semper ullamcorper purus. Nam augue arcu, condimentum a pellentesque vitae, viverra vitae tortor. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Sed vitae libero quam. Aenean in mi ut lacus sollicitudin consectetur. Duis consequat justo nisi, eu accumsan urna sagittis sit amet. Nullam ultrices semper eros quis pulvinar. Nulla id neque sed eros tempus congue. Praesent consectetur laoreet eros. Nullam ornare lorem elit, vitae auctor tellus tempus vel.

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  • EVOL

    Cras tincidunt eu dui nec pulvinar. Sed gravida tristique nulla, sed auctor velit consequat eu. Vivamus suscipit rutrum aliquam. Nam quis lacus vel dui tincidunt tincidunt nec eget risus. Praesent suscipit ipsum ac neque finibus rhoncus. Sed sed risus laoreet, facilisis risus vel, ultricies quam. Morbi pellentesque fringilla nibh, pellentesque semper leo pharetra quis. Praesent lobortis sem sed accumsan iaculis. Fusce sed nisl feugiat, condimentum diam et, accumsan erat. Aliquam eget libero vehicula, euismod augue non, volutpat dolor. Maecenas facilisis sapien a mattis porttitor.

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