The Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) is a French public science and technology research institute under the joint authority of the French ministries in charge of research and overseas development. The IRD has three main missions: research, consultancy and training. It conducts scientific programs contributing to the sustainable development of the countries of the South, with an emphasis on the relationship between humans and the environment. The Freshwater Biodiversity and Macroecology Research Unit is part of the UMR “Biologie des Organismes et Écosystèmes Aquatiques”, BOREA.
Biodiversity and macro-ecology team at the UMR BOREA (IRD)
A growing number of ecologists embrace a balanced view of community ecology that integrates regional and historical processes, as well as species interactions within local habitats. This broadened perspective is largely based on non-experimental, comparative approaches that frequently use “natural experiments” for identifying factors shaping community structure. Strictly freshwater organisms are particularly well suited to this type of study since, rivers (or lakes), are separated from one another by insurmountable barriers (oceans, or land). Thus river basins (or lakes) are to some extent independent entities that could be used in comparative analysis to explore the factors that shape community organization between and within them.
In our team we use this natural experiment framework to analyze the relative role of local, regional and continental features in determining community structure. Community richness, composition and dynamics are approached using several research axes: large scale biodiversity gradients, community saturation, community convergence, density compensation and temporal dynamics. In a more applied context we use this framework to answer questions that are currently being asked by society including the spread of alien invasive species, and the effects of global climate changes and natural habitats fragmentation on the maintenance of aquatic biodiversity.
Jean-François Cornu is a GIS engineer and database manager working at regional and global scales on hydrological networks and habitat parameters.
Céline Jézéquel is a GIS engineer and database manager working at regional and global scales on hydrological networks and freshwater organisms distributions.
Murilo Sversut-Dias is a Brazilian PhD. student financed by CNPq (the Brazilian national research center). He works on the role of fragmentation on freshwater fish communities and regional and global scales, focusing on the processes of speciation, extinction and dispersal, ultimately responsible for current diversity patterns.