The vulnerability of most natural ecosystems to global change (GC) is resulting in a collapse of biodiversity. Not only are we losing a heritage that jeopardizes the functioning of ecosystems, but we are also reducing the capacity of nature to contribute to the well-being of human societies. Other consequences of GCs include the degradation or even loss of natural habitats (including soils), the acceleration of biological invasions and the emergence of new diseases that benefit from global warming and the globalization of trade, the increase in chemical pollution of air, water and soil by plastics, pesticides, nitrates, heavy metals... These phenomena are intrinsically linked in what can be called an "ecological crisis" which accounts for an extremely degraded state of the living world and the environment and the speed with which the situation is evolving.
In response, under the impetus of global scientific expertise (IPBES, IPCC, MEA) showing the links between ecosystem health and human well-being, societies have the ambition of a multifunctional and sustainable management of resources and preservation of natural environments and associated species. The sustainable management and protection of ecosystems involves, in particular, the conservation and development of natural resources, the conservation and restoration of environments and their maintenance in a high health status in order to satisfy the various functions or services (provision, biodiversity, regulation, protection and various "amenities") that they provide.
To curb this ecological crisis that threatens entire species assemblages that will suddenly be threatened with extinction, the international community, notably under the aegis of the United Nations, has :
- signed various agreements for the protection of species and habitats,
- set up the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services,
- and, on the model of the climate conferences, aims to reach an international agreement to protect at least 30% of the planet, an objective taken up by the European Commission for 2030.
Beyond these texts, it is clear that these speeches are no longer enough and that the conservation, management and restoration of ecosystems remain a major challenge, to maintain sustainable interactions between humans and the environment.
Mission and objectives
In this context, the mission of BIOGECO is to develop innovative research oriented towards the analysis of biodiversity in a perspective of sustainable management of natural resources and environments.
The ecosystems studied are varied but with a strong emphasis towards temperate forests. They also concern tropical forests, permanent grasslands, wetlands, dunes and urban areas. The biological models studied are essentially tree and herbaceous plant species, as well as the pathogen fungi, insects, birds and microbiota associated with them.
The ambition of the unit is to promote an integrated analysis of biological diversity at different levels of life (from genes to communities of organisms), considering biotic interactions and the effect of the environment as a driver of its evolution.
The unit also has a teaching mission within the University of Bordeaux (Doctorate School "sciences and environments") and is involved in the training of engineers at Bordeaux Science Agro.
Positioning and scientific strategy
BIOGECO is attached to the Ecology and Biodiversity division of INRAE and the Environmental Sciences Department of the University of Bordeaux. Its research is essentially in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology and organized around a corpus of disciplines that allows us to study the structure, functioning and evolution of life in interaction with its environment. These researchs are placed at different scales of integration (from genes to communities, from the individual to the ecosystem) and use approaches that are based on observation, experimentation, modeling, but also participatory sciences. In addition, we must take into account the extremely varied spatial and temporal scales necessary to understand biological processes and to implement management practices.
With regard to the major issues that fall within our field of action, we produce fundamental knowledge (about 100 publications per year) that allows us to better understand the responses of populations and species to global changes as well as the mechanisms/processes that underlie their evolution and adaptation, and ultimately to better predict the future of ecosystems.
This new knowledge, produced by 7 research teams and 4 skill units, focuses on 4 research themes:
- Studying the evolutionary history and response of species and communities to global changes
- Understanding and predicting complex phenotypes
- Understanding the dynamics and functional role of biodiversity
- Developing integrated approaches for the management, conservation and restoration of biodiversity
© Christophe Plomion
At the crossroads of these major fields of research, our research is also accompanied by a certain number of applications, which aim to :
- strengthen the scientific culture of citizens and inform the public debate
- develop natural resource and environmental management strategies to meet the multiple challenges of resilience and adaptation to global change, biodiversity and the bioeconomy.
- inform public decision-makers on the ecological, economic and societal issues surrounding the management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to better equip them when making decisions on the future of these ecosystems
- transfer the knowledge applied to the sustainable management of ecosystems, by working alongside stakeholders
More specifically, we propose: management practices that promote the sustainability of ecosystems, risk analyses with incertainty and multiple disturbances, biomonitoring tools, bioindicators of good ecological status and sustainable management of natural environments, methods for improving genetic resources, characterization of the adaptive potential of forest trees, methods for controlling bioinvasions, etc.
Thus, our research meet socio-economic and environmental issues that affect ecosystems in the face of global change, by producing knowledge and applications contributing to sustainable management strategies in order to mitigate the effects of these changes (e.g. through C storage), to adapt biological resources and also to restore ecosystems when they are degraded.