Organization of biological diversity at different scales, from gene to phenotype and from individual to community
Biological diversity is distributed among different hierarchical levels, which have often been studied separately. Our aim is to combine different approaches in a more integrative way, from genes to communities, taking advantage of our skills in genomics, population genetics, quantitative genetics and ecology.
Spatial distribution of diversity at different scales, from stand to landscape and to species distribution range
The current organization of diversity has been shaped by processes taking place at different spatial scales. The integration between scales will inevitably require models and computer simulations that need to be validated. Theoretical approaches are being developped and models of spatial integration of processes will be tested on various experimental data obtained in the research unit.
How history has shaped diversity, from the Holocene to the Anthropocene
Along with spatial analysis, historical reconstructions of the evolution of diversity will be confronted with available genetic and historical data (including pollen and other fossil remains). An extension of the original research is to use these reconstructions to predict the evolution of diversity in the context of ongoing climate change.
Although it is ambitious in its objectives, the project is nonetheless limited to a few experimental models. First the component of intraspecific diversity can be addressed only on a small number of species (mainly oaks, maritime pine and associated fungi and insects). On the other hand, at the interspecific level, three main ecosystems are targeted: the maritime pine forest of the Landes de Gascogne, the forest-agriculture interface and the rainforest (trees from French Guiana). Finally, among the three levels of integration mentioned above, priority will be given to the integration between the biological levels of organization of diversity from genes to communities.
In terms of methods, an important place is given to theoretical approaches, combining analytical models and simulation. These approaches are confronted with experimental findings for ensure that they remain relevant and sufficiently generic and to facilitate their transfer to users and forest managers.
A central question around which several research activities revolve is: "at the level of a given ecosystem, are the various organizational levels of biodiversity independent? Is there a regulation of diversity resulting from an interaction between these different levels?". This question helps structure the scientific project of our research groups into five main areas of research. The first concerns the description of the organization of diversity. The second concentrates on the factors influencing the evolution of diversity. The third focuses on the impact of human actions. The fourth is the main issue of the group and deals with the functional role of diversity. Finally the last objective is to contribute to the sustainable management of ecosystems and environments. Within each priority, action research (a dozen in total) were identified at the outset to define our agenda for the next five years (2011-2015).