The scientific questions raised by the ‘Ecology, Biodiversity and Continental Ecosystem Functioning’ (Ecobio) department primarily look at the role of living organisms and environments and their interactions.

Key figures

Flagship scientific projects

Pixibinthus: discovery of a new species of grasshopper in New Caledonia

Since the re-emergence of the main island of New Caledonia 37 million years ago, very few studies have looked at the evolutionary history of insects. Working in collaboration with a team from MNHN (France’s natural history museum), IRD researchers have studied the evolution of a grasshopper native to New Caledonia. On the basis of a phylogenetic study, they traced its evolutionary history and highlighted the insect’s ecological specialisation.

Water quality and E.coli dynamics in Asia

A team from IRD and scientists from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos studied the dynamics off the E.coli bacteria in three watersheds in southeast Asia.

The presence of the E.coli bacteria is an indicator of faecal contamination of water supply systems. These teams developed new sampling protocols and demonstrated that the type of vegetation combined with the presence of mammals plays a crucial role in the bacterial load found in the water.

Corn pests affected by the climate

In East Africa, the caterpillars of two moths, Busseola fusca and Chilo partellus, are major threats to maize, the main food crop grown in the region. Recent work by IRD researchers and their partners in Kenya has demonstrated that their distribution varies with altitude. Busseola fusca prefers mountain slopes while Chilo partellus is dominant at lower altitudes. A new study has thrown light on to this phenomenon. Temperature plays a role at several levels, suggesting that the populations of the two pests will evolve in the years to come.

  • Sfécologie - international scientific ecology conference

    The Sfécologie conference was held from 24 to 28 October 2016 in Marseille by the Mediterranean Institute of biodiversity and marine and continental ecology (IMBE), and brought together some 900 participants.

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And in the future ?

As biodiversity is a factor in several SDGs and plays a key role in meeting people’s food, energy and cultural requirements, the IRD’s teams will continue their research in to the threats to biodiversity, its erosion and its standardisation at a global level. In this respect, they will ensure that open science approaches are introduced, involving teams of researchers, decision-makers, managers and users.

As part of IRD and Cirad’s efforts to align their respective collaboration arrangements in partnership with the South, IRD has expressed the wish to join the Innovation and Variety Improvement in West Africa research and teaching partnership (DP IAVAO). The two organisations are thus jointly holding the 2017 "Sustainable Intensification" conference in Dakar.

In 2017, IRD also plans to join the Phytobiome Alliance (an industry/academic collaborative initiative to build a foundation focused on phytobiome-related studies).