Biodiversity dynamics and macro-ecology

The BioM team’s researches focus on diverse topics, all related to large-scale biodiversity conservation facing the impacts of human activities. We are particularly interested in the consequences of climate change and biological invasions on biodiversity, with a particular attention for island ecosystems. Population dynamics is also a complementary axis of our studies to better understand the underlying ecological processes and consequences of biotic interactions at local scale. Our studies may mobilize different complementary approaches, such as lab experiments, field observations or various analytical approaches (meta-analyzes of the literature results, modeling, statistical analyses).

Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique et Evolution TEAM LEADER: Franck Courchamp

Ugo Arbieu, Thomas Evans, Ivan Jaric, Anne-Claire Maurice, Thomas Hughes, Clara Marino, Gabriel Caetano, Gabriel Klippel

Research areas:

Biological invasions

Biological invasions are now considered as one of the biggest threats to biodiversity. The introduction of plant and animal species by humans is currently causing major disruption to the native communities with a variety of consequences from physical disturbances of the native ecosystem, the disruption of ecosystem services to the extinction of native species.

With more than 37,000 alien species worldwide, including more than 3,500 invasive alien species, IAS are a global phenomenon. In our team, we address various questions related to biological invasions. For instance, we studied what are the main economic consequences of biological invasions (invacost project), we also explore the functional and phylogenetic consequences of biological invasions (rivage project) and the main characteristics that explain the success of the notorious invaders in freshwater communities.

Macroecology and Global changes

The current biodiversity crisis is one of the main challenges that humanity faces. Current records show that species populations have declined by 25% on average since 1970. The main drivers of biodiversity loss include habitat loss, species’ overexploitation and the introductions of alien species. Besides, climate change could become a prominent, if not a leading, cause of extinction. In our team, we study how global change may affect the multiple dimensions of diversity (taxonomic, functional, and phylogenetic). To this aim, we use macro-ecological approaches and biogeography theories on multiple systems and taxa including terrestrial vertebrates, freshwater fish, islands, or urban systems by assessing the responses of biodiversity to climate change, biological invasions and habitat loss.

Predator-prey systems dynamic

This research question examines the consequences of a lack of top predators because (i) they disappear (with a focus on the replacement of top predators by mesopredators on continents due to human encroachment and habitat fragmentation); or (ii) they were not initially present in the studied ecosystem (with a focus on introduced mesopredators on islands that fill the vacant niche of the upper level of predation). One of the main aspects of trophic downgrading relates to the new ecological role of mesopredation, as medium-sized carnivore populations have largely and widely increased through the “mesopredator release effect”. Currently in Europe, the most common predators are medium-sized carnivores, such as red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), badgers (Meles meles), and stone martens (Martes foina). These generalist predators can exploit a wide spectrum of prey, including birds, lagomorphs, rodents, invertebrates, fruits, and anthropogenic. Thus, mesopredators are currently a key component in reshaping and restructuring continental food webs.

Our project «Top predator dynamics in suburban agroecosystems: their role in crop consumer regulation» (ANR) treats the trophic interactions between two predominant meso-predators acting as top predators in agroecosystems, cats (domestic species) and foxes (pest species), which sometimes generate opposing human perceptions and practices depending on the predator status and a priori insights.

Conservation culturomics

Conservation culturomics is the study of human-nature interactions in the digital world. We use a variety of online data sources, like social media posts, news articles and online search volumes, to investigate public attitudes, awareness, interest and sentiment towards biodiversity and conservation. For example, we can use Google search trends to find out which species of animals or plants generate more public interest in different parts of the world, or use Facebook posts to investigate the sentiment of national park visitors towards different landscape elements, such as forests, mountains, marshes. Such information could have important implications for conservation marketing and management of protected areas.