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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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EABX conducts research on characterizing and understanding the responses of continental aquatic biodiversity to global changes at different biological scales.

Context and issues

It now appears that the functioning of ecosystems can no longer be dissociated from the dynamics of human activities. Indeed, it is now widely established that, in recent decades, environmental changes at local and global scales threaten the very sustainability of these ecosystems by altering the balance between human activities, biodiversity, fundamental properties and the global functioning of ecosystems.

In this context, the study of the ecological consequences of such global changes on biodiversity and, consequently, on the provision of ecological goods and services associated with ecosystems has become a major societal issue in addition to being a scientific discipline. These research themes are at the heart of current national (publication of the National Biodiversity Strategy 2011-2020, creation of the French Biodiversity Office), European and international issues (creation of the IPBES, BiodivERsA Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda) relating to the monitoring, dynamics and resilience of biodiversity.


EABX conducts research on characterizing and understanding the responses of continental aquatic biodiversity to global changes at different biological scales. The global changes of particular interest to us are fisheries, environmental fragmentation, contamination and climate change. The objectives of our research are, firstly, to better understand the mechanisms at play, and secondly, to provide recommendations based on various tools such as indicators, methods, simulations, expertise, sensors, etc. in support of public policies for the management of aquatic ecosystems.
The unit's research topics concern continental aquatic ecosystems and can be applied at different levels of organization:

  • species and populations of heritage interest (migratory amphihaline fish, aquatic plants (isoetides)) or functional (sole, white shrimp, microalgae);
  • communities (aquatic plants, fish, biofilms);
  • interaction networks within biofilms of estuarine and lake ecosystems.

Research teams

EABX is composed of two teams that revolve around their specific research objects:

  • The ECOVEA team conducts research on the Ecology of Aquatic Plant Communities and on the impact of multiple pressures (leader: Soizic Morin).
  • The FREEMA team is interested in the Functioning and Restoration of Estuarine Ecosystems and populations of Amphihaline Migratory Species (leader: Bertrand Villeneuve)

Research objects

EABX joins the strategy of INRAE and its AQUA Department by actively participating in the Strategic Scientific Domain "Biodiversity, management and dynamics of ecosystems, ecosystem services" and secondarily in the Strategic Scientific Domain "Risks" as well as in the AQUA Department's Director Axis which deals with "Aquatic Systems under Multiple Pressures" (ADD1).
The unit's research, generally oriented by problem solving, seeks to integrate 4 major axes of fundamental research, transverse to our fields of activity and objects of study.

The influence of global and local factors on biodiversity

How can multiple anthropogenic stresses be integrated into the assessment of the ecological status of systems? How can they be deconvolved with a view to restoration? How does climate change influence the dynamics of species repositioning and viability? What are the responses of biodiversity to ecotoxic risks? What are the dynamics of bioaccumulation and what are the associated biomarkers? What are the impacts of physical breaks in continuity on migratory behavior and the viability of amphihaline migratory fish populations?

Adaptive responses to global changes

What individual mechanisms are involved in the emergence of adaptive responses? What population traits or characteristics facilitate the emergence of adaptive responses in certain species (repositioning, metapopulation, tactics, functional redundancy...)? Can we predict the risks of maladaptation and the potential adaptive responses of species from past observations (trajectories, phenology...)?

Changes in biodiversity and their impact on the functioning of the systems

What biotic interaction mechanisms structure communities (grazing, allelopathy...)? What is the link between biodiversity and trophic functioning (in our ecosystems/communities of interest)? What is the role of key species dynamics on functioning? What are the methods for studying trophic networks for today and tomorrow?

Ecological dynamics of habitats and species in a context of restoration and/or conservation

What is the status and viability of restored or supported populations and habitats (isoetids, migratory amphihaline fish)? How can conservation-restoration programs be developed, evaluated and improved? How does habitat and species restoration impact the functioning of an ecosystem?


EABX is a research unit in aquatic ecology, with expertise in ecology and modeling, but also in ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry. It is composed of about 40 permanent researchers, engineers and technicians. It also welcomes doctoral students (3 thesis defenses per year on average), post-doctoral students, contract workers and trainees (see organization chart).
The unit carries out actions at the different levels of the triptych of science (observation, experimentation and modeling). For this, we rely in particular on a Data and Analysis Division bringing together 3 engineers. In interaction with the research teams, this pole develops and implements relevant and innovative tools and methods for data banking, sample management, ecological data analysis and process modeling.


Our infrastructures are original, efficient and maintained at the best level of equipment. They are part of the research infrastructure called LIFE (Living In Freshwaters and Estuaries). More precisely, EABX has:

Scientific collaborations and partnerships

Internally, INRAE has strong links with the following Research Units: RECOVER for lake functioning, RIVERLY for ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry, LISC for modeling, ETBX in Human and Social Sciences and HYCAR for landscape ecology and geomatics. Regionally, our partnerships are strong with the units participating in LabEx COTE or constituting OASU. LabEx COTE contributed to strongly structuring partnership research in environmental sciences and we are involved in its evolution (GPR "Tackling global environmental change"). A Research Unit associated with Grese was created in 2017.
On a national scale, we regularly collaborate with several research institutions (CNRS, Universities, Ifremer). We are also involved in many partnership structures (GIS Grisam, GIS Macrophytes, GIS Cyano, GDR Ecostat, GDR Ecotox) as well as in companies.
On an international scale, beyond recurring collaborations : IGB (Germany) (sturgeon ecology), INRS (Canada), ICRA (Canada) and University of Girona (Spain) (ecotoxicology) our partnerships are mainly structured through international thematic scientific networks.


Research Unit Director

Henrique Cabral
+ 33 (0)5 57 89 09 97

Research Unit Director assistant

Juliette Rosebery
+ 33 (0)5 57 89 08 57