Main scientific interests
I am primarily interested in understanding the functional, ecological and evolutionary consequences of global environmental changes (climate and habitat changes, biological invasions) on vertebrates and biodiversity dynamics. My current main models are a heterothermic primate (the Grey Mouse Lemur Microcebus murinus) for functional experimental in situ and ex situ approaches, and capture-recapture bird monitoring by volunteer bird ringers for large-scale demographic processes.
Keywords : integrative biology, physiological ecology, thermal ecology, evolutionary ecology, global change biology, capture-mark-recapture, demography, citizen science, phenotypic flexibility, mammals, birds
Where to now ?
Adaptive phenotypic flexibility, energy saving mechanisms and resilience to environmental accidents (since 2006)
We develop experiments to characterize to which extent heterothermic vertebrates (i.e. able to reduce their metabolism - and body temperature - during periods of rest) can compensate energectic challenges by plastic adjustments of their phenotype (metabolism, behaviour, body condition). The main energetic challenges that we explore are food shortage and low ambient temperature. My working hypotheses are that (i) increasing variability of climate should induce unexpected food shortages, particularly during extreme climatic events, and (ii) consumers (at the opposite of primary producers) should be more affected by these resource shortages than by the direct impact of changing abiotic conditions (temperature, precipitation). My biological model is the Grey Mouse Lemur, a 60-120 g heterothermic, widespread primate from Madagascar. Experiments are run either under controlled conditions on captive individuals (at our lab) or under natural conditions with free-ranging individuals, thanks to the ideal collaboration with Melanie Dammhahn and Peter M. Kappeler (German Primate Center, Göttingen, Germany; Kirindy Forest research station, CNFEREF, Madagascar). This has been my main research topic since I joined MECADEV. These experiments run thanks to the crucial involvement of highly motivated junior colleagues (in the past, mainly Cindy I. Canale and Pauline Vuarin as graduate students, and Elise Huchard as postdoctoral colleague), and the long-term, unique expertise of grey mouse lemurs' biology of Martine Perret. Outline of some results here: poster_HETEROCLIM.pdf. A public conference on my ideas on the topic can be watched here.
This research has been funded by the lab (MECADEV, BIOADAPT team), Université Pierre et Marie Curie (PhD fellowship by ED 392 Diversité du Vivant), CNRS - INEE (PhD fellowship), PEPS INEE (pluridisciplinary exploratory grant), Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité of MNHN and Ethologische Gesellschaft e.V. (research grant, Germany).
Seasonal body mass flexibility and life-history trade-offs (2012-2015)
One way to overcome energetic challenges is to store energy in advance: animals often fatten prior to winter, reproduction or migration. It seems that there is important between-individual variation in the use of energy saving mechanisms, and I would like to understand the costs, or trade-offs, that shape individual strategies of energy saving mechanisms (torpor and seasonal fattening), and their energetic efficiency. Thanks to the long term monitoring of body mass, reproductive output and age at death for our captive grey mouse lemurs (20 years, 2300 individuals, run by Martine Perret and the technical staff, and archived in a database by Isabelle Hardy), we will identify the life-history correlates (reproductive output, survival) of individual seasonal body mass trajectories. Currently, we are calibrating the survival curves and their main determinants.
This project is run in close collaboration with Samuel Pavard (UMR 7206), Isabelle Hardy and Martine Perret. It started thanks to the granting of a PhD fellowship to Julie Landes by ED 227 'Sciences de la Nature et de l'Homme' (MNHN).
Demographic responses of birds to global changes in space: from national trends to local management (DEMOSPACE; 2013-2016)
Are their regional (biogeographic and administrative) differences in the demographic sensitivity of common birds to climatic anomalies ? Are birds reproducing in protected areas buffered to some extent from climatic anomalies when compared to birds in non-protected areas ? At what spatial scale (site – region – nationwide) operate climate forcing on the demography of common birds ? We will start answering these questions with spatial hierarchical analyses of interannual variations in survival and recruitment for the 30 most common species of songbirds over the past 25 years. The necessary capture-mark-recapture data have been collected by the network of volunteer bird ringers throughout France under the French Constant Effort bird ringing Sites scheme (Suivi Temporel des Oiseaux Communs par Capture, STOC Capture), launched in 1989 by CRBPO (Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d’Oiseaux, CESCO, MNHN). One important component of this project will also be to provide bird ringers and managers of monitored sites with easy-to-use, meaningful statistics that would help them evaluating if their management actions impact the demography of common birds (after having accounted for large-scale trends and the influence of climatic fluctuations).
This project is run in close collaboration with Frédéric Jiguet, Olivier Dehorter, Pierre Fiquet and Romain Julliard (CESCO), Olivier Gimenez (CEFE), Christophe Luczak (LOG), CAP-ORNIS Baguage, Département du Nord, Espaces DEpartementaux Naturels du Pas-de-Calais (EDEN 62), Parc Naturel Régional des Caps et Marais d’Opale and Centre Permanent d’Initiatives pour l’Environnement (CPIE) ‘Chaîne des Terrils’. It has been funded by the Biodiversity Research Call of Région Nord-Pas de Calais and Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (FRB), and is implemented to a large extent by Manon Ghislain (graduate student).
Climate change, habitat change and body size reduction in birds (2014-2017)
This project will test if the body size of common breeding birds has reduced over the past 25 years, and whether body size changes are better attributed to the changing climate (warmer temperatures, cf. Bergmann's rule) or to changing habitats (reduced availability of primary production for wild organisms through increased anthropogenic pressures on hosting ecosystems). We will also test if body size changes are the consequence of selective pressures on juvenile or adult survival or on early growth. Long-term data on body size, body mass, and annual survival of common birds have been collected by the volunteer bird ringers, as part of the French Constant Effort bird ringing Sites scheme of CRBPO.
This project is coordinated by Isabelle Le Viol (CESCO), and will be implemented in collaboration with Romain Julliard, Céline Teplitsky, Alexandre Robert (CESCO) and Olivier Gimenez (CEFE). It will be run by Nicolas Dubos, who has been hired thanks to a PhD fellowship granted by LabEx BCDiv.
Main ongoing educational projects
Continuing training courses of analysis of bird ringing data (since 2008)
The c. 450 authorized bird ringers collect c. 350000 capture-recapture and biometric data each year in France. These data are used at the national level to address key issues in bird ecology and conservation. But bird ringers also expect to use the data that they collect to answer questions of local importance, like the assessment of local management actions or to characterize the state of focal bird populations of interest. To help them in starting to extract the locally relevant information from their own data, I launched a set a three courses of capture-recapture data analysis, intended to bird ringers and their partners (particularly environmental managers). Level 1 consists in data management using Excel (2 days); level 2 is dedicated at practicing classical statistical analysis (frequency comparisons, mean comparisons, linear models) using the software R (2 days); and level 3 is dedicated at estimating population size and analyzing survival probabilities with capture-recapture data, using the software MARK (4 days). These courses are delivered by myself and Olivier Dehorter (CESCO). Upcoming courses, course contents (lectures, data files, Excel macros), evaluations of past courses and the list of persons that have attended these courses are available at CRBPO’s website.
These courses are organized by local groups of bird ringers (often by the regional delegate of CRBPO), where it suits them the best, and several courses benefited from specific funding (DREAL Haute-Normandie & Basse-Normandie, DEAL Martinique, TE ME UM, CAP-ORNIS Baguage, the rest of the expenses being covered by CESCO).
Theoretical training of future bird ringers (since 2012)
Persons that seek to be granted the authorization to capture and mark birds for scientific purposes (‘bird ringing license’) have to undergo a complete, technical and theoretical training. This training secures that they will practice bird ringing safely (for the birds and for themselves) and that they will understand the biological and statistical principles that guide the ringing monitoring protocols that they will implement. Since 2012, I coordinate the obligatory, 2-day theoretical training course that they have to follow prior to the ultimate, qualification field course. This course is given by the staff of CRBPO, at MNHN.
Regulatory training on the use of free-ranging wild animals in research
The use of animals for scientific purposes has to strictly adhere to legal and ethical rules, set at national and international levels. In 2013, in France, it became mandatory that all persons using wild animals for in situ scientific experiments follow an initial regulatory training that secures that they are aware of the relevant rules, and they know the practices that are the most respectful of animal welfare. But such a training program did not exist. MNHN, in association with CNRS, the French National Agency for Wildlife (ONCFS) and the Center for Biological Studies of Chizé (CEBC), is now officially authorized to launch this regulatory training program by the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Committee for Animal Experimentation. We are now preparaing the first training sessions. The French denomination for this program is "Formation à l'usage d'animaux de la faune sauvage non-hébergée à fins scientifiques - niveaux Concepteur et Opérateur".
I coordinate this program for MNHN, in collaboration with a working group composed by Amaury de Luze (Ethical Committee Cuvier, MNHN), Nirmala Seon-Massin (ONCFS), Magali Jacquier (CNRS INSB IPBS), Xavier Bonnet (CEBC), Jean-Yves Chollet (ONCFS SAGIR), Nathalie Guinec (MNHN) and Laurence Neuville (CNRS).
Scientific director of Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d’Oiseaux (CRBPO, French Bird Ringing Center, CESCO, MNHN), since 2012. With Frédéric Jiguet, director of CRBPO, we coordinate and promote bird ringing in France. This involves (i) improving and increasing the use of French bird capture-recapture data for research, conservation and expertise at the local, national and international level; (ii) updating bird ringing protocols for volunteer bird ringers; (iii) evaluating and authorizing individual-based research proposals involving bird ringing in France (called ‘programmes personnels’); (iv) theoretical and statistical training of bird ringers; and (v) coordination and promotion of three national-wide demographic capture-recapture surveys of birds : the French Constant Effort bird ringing Sites scheme (Suivi Temporel des Oiseaux Communs par Capture), the Species-targeted Surveys (Suivi des Populations d’Oiseaux Locaux) and the monitoring of stop-over by migrating songbirds (Programme Séjour).
Representing MNHN at the working group ‘The animal in its environment’ of National Alliance of Research for the Environment (AllEnvi), since 2012.
Member of the scientific committee of Audomarois Man&Biosphere Reserve, since 2013.
Consulting Editor of the journal Nature Conservation, since 2011.
Representing researchers and professors at the advisory board of MECADEV, since 2010.
Representing Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité at the executive committee of Communication of MNHN, since 2008.
All my publications are available at: