Challenges and missions

Challenges and missions

Context and issues

It now appears that the functioning of ecosystems can no longer be dissociated from the dynamics of human activities. It is in particular now widely established that, over the last few decades, local and global environmental changes caused by human activities are threatening aquatic ecosystems by altering the balance between biodiversity, and ecological functions.

In this context, the study of global change consequences on biodiversity and the supply of associated ecological goods and services has become a major societal issue as well as a scientific research area. This research area are at the core of current national, European and international issues relating to the monitoring, dynamics and resilience of biodiversity. The activities of the Aquatic Ecosystems and Global Change research unit fall within this framework.


Salle blanche pour la préparation et l'observation et le stockage d'échantillons de structures calcifiées de différentes espèces de poissons
© INRAE / NICOLAS Bertrand

We carry out exploratory and prospective research aimed at investigating the impact of global change on continental aquatic ecosystems (rivers, lakes, estuaries). We coordinate and participate in numerous research projects as part of regional, national and international collaborative networks, involving research institutes, government agencies and private companies. Based on the knowledge generated, we develop operational solutions for managers, in support of public policies, to contribute to a better understanding, management and conservation of these ecosystems (indicators, simulations, expert assessments, sensors, etc.). Finally, we play an active role in training through research, and disseminate our knowledge to schools and the general public.




Research topics

The research unit focuses on different levels of biological organisation:

Les axes de recherche d'EABX
  • communities (aquatic plants, fishes, biofilms) ;
  • species and populations of particular interest (amphihaline migratory fish, including the emblematic European sturgeon, aquatic plants such as isoetids) or functional value (sole, white shrimp, thinlip mullet, microalgae);
  • molecular markers of stress (metabo- and lipidomic approaches).

The research being carried out focuses on three interdependent problematics:

  • how do human pressures modulate aquatic biodiversity? ('Responses' axis);
  • how do changes in aquatic biodiversity affect the functioning of aquatic ecosystems? ('Functioning' axis);
  • how can aquatic biodiversity be conserved and/or restored? ('Conservation' axis).


These three questions feed off each other, both in terms of the results produced and the new research questions raised. They also  iteratively integrate research based on the different biological models and levels of organisation studied, and cross the different methodological approaches implemented in our teams.


Modification date: 19 June 2024 | Publication date: 15 May 2023 | By: Grégory Lambert