Welcome on my webpage!

I'm an associate professor of evolutionary biology at Toulouse 3 University (Evolution & Biological Diversity EDB lab). My research aims at understanding the evolution of physiological and behavioural responses of wild animals to environmental variations (especially variations in parasitism and pollution), using comparative and experimental approaches in birds and fishes. Here you can find some information about my research and teaching activities.
Maître de Conférences- Associate professor
Université Toulouse III Paul Sabatier
Laboratoire Evolution et Diversité Biologique EDB
Bat 4R1, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse, France
+33 (0)5 61 55 64 74

Evolutionary Ecology, Host-parasites interactions, Ecoimmunology, Behavioral Ecology,  Ecophysiology, Animal Coloration, Evolutionary Ecotoxicology

Main research topics:
- intraspecific variability of individual responses to environmental variations (parasitism, pollution)
- causes and consequences of intraspecific variability in melanin-based coloration

New project

Of fish and men: physiological and behavioral responses to human-driven perturbations in freshwater fishes

We just rece
ived a grant from Agence de l'Eau to launch the project! We focus on the effects of pollutants (pesticides and trace metals) on fish health at different biological levels, from molecules to the whole organism. We are testing whether some populations developed specific physiological or behavioral abilities to cope with water pollution, and how this can affect their ability to respond to parasites. We are using a combination of field and lab approaches on freshwater fishes (gudgeon, chub, brown trout). This is a collaborative project with several labs and colleagues. Jessica Côte (postdoc) and Quentin Petitjean (PhD candidate) just joined the team. Stay tuned for upcoming results! More info on this project  here.

Artwork: Lo
ïc Laurent

Ongoing projects:

-  PHYPAT: Physiological responses to pollution and parasites in wild gudgeons (Univ Toulouse EDB/Ecolab/SETE Moulis/BordeauxSciencesAgro)
 - Coloration and adaptive responses to global changes in brown trout (Université de Toulouse EDB/Université d'Anglet/INRA St-Pée-sur-Nivelle, Pays Basque)
-  Transgenerational effects of parasites and oil pollution on behavior in Trinidadian guppies (Université de Toulouse EDB/McGill University, Montréal, Canada)

Past projects:

 - ATER: Effects of acanthocephalan parasites on gammarid behavior (CEREEP/UPMC/Université Versailles-St-Quentin)
-  PhD: Adaptations to parasites and trace metal pollution in pigeons (Université Pierre et Marie Curie EcoEvo/Université Paris-Ouest LECC/MNHN)
-  Master/PhD: Ecological immunology and maternal effects in pigeons (UPMC/CEREEP)

1. Alternative strategies and wild immunology

Individuals of the same species respond very differently to parasites, but the causes and consequences of such intra-specific diversity remain unclear. We investigate how physiological traits such as immunity can participate in the adaptive responses of individuals to parasitism and environmental variations. For instance, we are testing whether parasitism is an evolutionary force driving the evolution of personality traits and life-history strategies in the wild. Because the costs of mounting an immune response are tightly linked to environmental factors (such as resource availability or pollution), we also study how other biotic and abiotic stressors (especially pollution) interact to shape the evolutionary trajectories of wild populations.

2.  Parental effects and evolution of defenses

I'm interested in how physiological and behavioral defenses against parasites and pollution are shaped across generations through parental investment.  During my PhD I focused on the transmission of maternal antibodies and its effect on parasite resistance in pigeons. Our current studies on fishes aim at understanding how parental exposure to parasites and pollutants can affect the behavioral and physiological traits of their offspring (parental effects).

3. Evolution of color polymorphism and melanin-based coloration

Many vertebrate species display a wonderful color diversity, but the biological significance of animal coloration is still unclear. During my PhD I compared the life-history strategies of differently colored feral pigeons, focusing on the role of urbanization and parasites in the maintenance of melanin-based color polymorphism.  Results suggest that melanin-based coloration can signal individual strategies, with each morph being specialized in the exploitation of a particular microhabitat. For instance, darker pigeons seem better adapted to heavily urbanized and parasitized environments compared to paler ones. We are now testing whether color variability in birds and fishes (trout and gudgeon) could reflect alternative niche use and whether more variable populations are better able to cope with environmental perturbations, using a combination of experimental and comparative studies.

  Artistic project by J Charriere

4. Urban ecology and Evolutionary Ecotoxicology

I'm fascinated by the ability of some species to adapt to human-disturbed habitats.But only a few species and particular behavioral types within a given species are able to cope with such altered environments. We aim at deciphering which key physiological and behavioral traits are involved in the responses of birds and fishes to pollution and urbanization, and at understanding the evolutionary processes leading (or not) to local adaptation in human-altered environments. The next step will be to assess their consequences for population persistence, hoping to provide useful knowledge and tools for managers.

Nice view of Montréal from McGill University- typical North American urban landscape!