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

Last update: May 2021

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Functioning and Restoration of Estuarine Ecosystems and Amphihaline Migratory Populations


Within the EABX unit, the FREEMA team (Functioning and Restoration of Estuarine Ecosystems and Amphihaline Migratory Populations) carries out research on the understanding, characterization and evaluation of the responses of continental aquatic biodiversity to the combined impacts of climate change, environmental stresses and anthropogenic pressures.
Biodiversity is apprehended at different levels of organization (individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems) around two main objects of study: populations of amphihaline migratory fish (MAP) and estuarine ecosystems (EE).
The team is an institutional member of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society.

Fields of research

Our work revolves around 2 objectives.
First, our research focuses on characterizing and assessing the status and viability of MAPs and EE in the face of global changes. In this respect, it is based on work aimed at better understanding the dynamics and functioning, particularly current, of biodiversity around our objects. This translates into work in ecology (essential habitats, dispersion, migrations, sensitivity to temperature or hypoxia, behaviour, phenotypic plasticity), ecotoxicology (bioaccumulation and effects of contaminants, work carried out in partnerships) and population dynamics in order:

  • to better assess the ecological functionality of estuarine ecosystems that are naturally subject to strong environmental stresses combined with multiple anthropogenic pressures and, from there, to define relevant functional indicators of their ecological status ;
  • to better assess the viability of the different MAP populations in the face of anthropogenic pressures (in particular fishing, habitat fragmentation, contamination) in order to provide relevant management tools (functional indicators, dashboards, precautionary diagrams, etc.);
  • to characterize the goods and services associated with biodiversity, and particularly migratory amphihaline fish, with the objective of management, conservation and restoration (work carried out in partnership).

Then, on the basis of our knowledge and expertise, our investigations aim to understand and describe the evolution of MAPs and EE in response to global changes in order to better assess the capacities for stability and resilience of populations, communities and ecosystems. This is done through:

  • the study of the adaptive responses of fish, and in particular LDCs, to global changes (climate change and anthropogenic pressures) in order to better assess the viability of different populations and their trajectories. This results in particular in work on evolutionary ecology (adaptation processes / adaptability ...);
  • the evaluation of ecosystem trajectories and in particular the effect of changes in biodiversity on the functioning of IS in order to deduce their capacity for resilience and stability within the framework of global changes and, from there, to propose evolutionary scenarios and monitoring indicators;
  • the analysis and evaluation of the ecological dynamics of habitats and species in restoration contexts in order to produce operational tools in the field of conservation biology, restoration ecology and even ecological engineering.


To deal with these different issues, we have strong skills in different fields of biology and ecology:

  • population ecology, conservation biology, displacement ecology, rehabilitation ecology, behavioral ecology, trophic ecology, fisheries ecology, ecological engineering...

We implement and develop innovative methods in quantitative ecology, numerical ecology and modeling:

  • statistical modeling, trophic modeling, population dynamics

Finally, with our partners, we carry out work in the fields of :

  • ecotoxicology, genetics, ecophysiology and socio-economics


Conservation biology, displacement biology, rehabilitation ecology, behavioral ecology, quantitative ecology, ecological engineering, fisheries, ecotoxicology, genetics, ecophysiology and partnership socio-economics, modeling, statistics.

Team composition

ManagerPermanent staff members
  • ACOLAS Marie-Laure, Rehabilitation ecology
  • BAU Frédérique, Travel ecology, telemetry
  • BONS Stéphane, Metrology and biological sampling
  • CABRAL Henrique, Community Ecology and Biodiversity in Estuarine Ecosystems
  • CARASSOU Laure, Functional Ecology and Biodiversity
  • CHERIF Mehdi, Modeling, Trophic network
  • CHEVRE Patrick, Zootechnics
  • DAVERAT Françoise, Otolith science, phenotypic plasticity (HDR)
  • DROUINEAU Hilaire, Modeling, population dynamics (HDR)
  • GAZEAU-NADIN Christine, Sclerochronology
  • JANC Anaïs, Modeling, species distribution
  • JATTEAU Philippe, Ecology young stages
  • LAMBERT Patrick, Modeling, population dynamics (HDR)
  • LASSALLE Géraldine, Aquatic ecology, quantitative ecology
  • LE BARH Romaric, Biological Sampling
  • LEPAGE Mario, Bio-indication
  • LOBRY Jérémy, Trophic network modeling (HDR)
  • POLESE Fabien, Scientific experimentation and measurement
  • RIGAUD Christian, Colonization ecology
  • ROCHARD Eric, Conservation biology migratory species (HDR)
  • VETILLARD Fabrice, Scientific interface and experimentation