BioFor theme - Dynamics of Plant Biodiversity in Rainforests



The Tropical Rainforest (TRF) is considered the richest and most complex ecosystem on the planet, hosting more than 50% of today's living species on about 7% of the world's land. These characteristics and its accelerated disappearance as a result of global, climatic and socio-economic changes caused by human activity, put it at the forefront of international environmental concerns regarding biodiversity conservation, sustainable management of natural resources, regulation of global biogeochemical cycles and carbon storage. At the same time, the relative lack of knowledge of its functioning makes it a priority issue for fundamental ecological research, which seeks to identify and quantify the natural processes that maintain a high level of diversity in these ecosystems, a prerequisite for predicting their evolution under different global change scenarios.


The main objective is to try to understand the organization and dynamics of the diversity of TRF tree stands at the regional level. Three main types of process are generally considered to contribute to the maintenance of diversity at this scale: local interactions, environmental filtering and dispersion. To which are added the turnover of vegetation and its forcing. In concrete terms, the relative importance of these processes must be inferred from observation and using modelling in order to provide managers with the knowledge they need to best decide on their actions in biodiversity management and conservation.

Expected Results

  •  Cognitive and theoretical advances on the biodiversity dynamics of TRFs;
  •  Methodological advances for the study of spatial-temporal processes in TRFs;
  •  Contribution to the capitalisation of information on TRFs within the framework of major regional forest observatories (DynAfFor and AfriTRON in Central Africa, RAINFOR, Guyafor, Amazon Tree Diversity Network, NC-PIPPN in New Caledonia, etc.);
  •  Applied outcomes in terms of mapping forest types, susceptibility to climate and anthropogenic changes and recommendations for the conservation of TRFs.

Significant events

  •  Organization of a symposium "Towards a unified vision of the central African forests" (S. Gourlet-Fleury, A. Fayolle. & R. Pélissier) during the 53rd annual conference of the ATBC (Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation), Montpelllier, 2016.

Main funded projects

Acronym Title Duration
RELIQUESFragmentation des forets sur substrats ultramafiques en Nouvelle Calédonie2019 - 2022
SAOTHREATFLORACharacterization of the Threatened Flora of São Tomé and Príncipe2019 - 2021
DEEPROOTInto the deep: exploring root distribution and function in tropical forests.2019 - 2020
TALL TREESA 3D perspective on the effects of topography and wind on forest height and dynamics2019 - 2023
CARTODIV-DENDROLIDARReconnaissance spécifique et cartographie des arbres de la canopée en forêt tropicale ET télédétection individu centrée pour l'évaluation de la ressource en bois d'œuvre en Guyane française2017 - 2020
USBIOUncertainty in Scenarios of BIOdiversity2017 - 2019
CURCOLEC-ACCuration, gestion et développement des collections écologiques liées au réseau de parcelles permanentes d'Afrique centrale2017 - 2019
LEAF EXPVALLeaf ExpVal2017 - 2018
COGEFORConnaissances et outils et pour la gestion conservatoire des forêts naturelles en Province Nord2016 - 2019
LONGTIMELong Term Impact of ancient Amerindian settlements on Guianese forests2016 - 2019
METISTModelling tropical diversity and forest functioning in space and time2016 - 2019
AFRODYNCentral AFrican Rain fOrests: past DYNamics and future resilience2015 - 2017
DYNFORDIVForçages environnementaux et anthropiques du turnover forestier2014 - 2018
RAINBIOAfrican RAIN forest community dynamics: implications for tropical BIOdiversity conservation and climate change mitigation2014 - 2016
COFORTIPSCongo basin forests: tipping points for biodiversity conservation and resilience of forested social and ecological systems.2013 - 2015

Theses defended

  •  Guitet, S., 2015. Diversité des écosystèmes forestiers de Guyane française : distribution, déterminants et conséquences en termes de services écosystémiques. PhD thesis, ED SIBAGHE, Univ. Montpellier, 350 p. (Co-dir: P. Couteron & D. Sabatier; INRA-ONF interface position). Current position: permanent position at IGN
  •  Allié, E. 2016. Assemblage des communautés d’arbres à une échelle locale en forêt tropicale - Apport d'une approche intégrative. PhD thesis, Univ. French Guiana. 214 pp. (Co-dir: C. Baraloto & R. Pélissier; Thesis grant from LabEx CEBA). Current position: scientific mediator
  •  Cherrington, E. A. 2016. Towards ecologically consistent remote sensing mapping of tree communities in French Guiana: are forest types identifiable from spatio-temporal canopy reflectance patterns?. PhD thesis, AgroParisTech, France and University of Technology Dresden, Germany. 123 pp. (Co-dir. R. Pélissier & U. Berger; Erasmus Mundus PhD program FONASO). Current position: SIG expert posted in USA for a belizian NGO
  •  Bose, R. 2017. Influence of past and present environment on the ecology and biogeography of tree species in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. PhD thesis AgroParisTech, France. (Co-dir: R. Pélissier & F. Munoz; International PhD Grant from IFP). Current position: Temporary contract as post-doctoral researcher at the Congo Basin Institute (UCLA) in Cameroon
  •  Libalah, M. 2018. Rôle des facteurs environnementaux sur la structure des communautés d’arbres des forêts de basse altitude en Afrique centrale. PhD thesis, Yaoundé 1 Univ., Cameroon (Co-dir P. Couteron, V. Droissart & B. Sonké; ARTS IRD / SCAC Cameroon scholarship). Current position: Temporary contract as post-doctoral researcher at IRD Cameroon.

Theses in progress

  •  Blanchard, G. 2016-2019- Contribution des forêts de basse altitude au maintien de la biodiversité en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Univ. New Caledonia (Co-dir F. Munoz & P. Birnbaum; COGEFOR project)
  •  Huertas, C. 2018-2021 – Predicting the impact of climate change on forest dynamics and spatial organization of forest communities in the tropics. ED Gaia, Univ. Montpellier (Co-dir. G. Vincent & R. Pélissier; IRD-MOPGA co-funding)
  •  Laybros, A. 2017-2021 - Cartographie des arbres de canopée tropicale par fusion LiDAR-hyperspectral. ED Gaia, Univ. Montpellier (Dir. G. Vincent; ONF CIFRE scholarship)
  •  Zebaze, D. 2016 - 2019 - RRôle et importance de la banque de graines du sol dans la dynamique et la régénération des peuplements forestiers du Sud-est Cameroun. Univ. Yaoundé 1 (Co-dir J.-L. Doucet, B. Sonké & V. Droissart)

HDR defended

  •  Vincent, G. 2015. Tropical forest dynamics modelling, Insights and perspectives. HDR memoir, ED Gaia, Univ. Montpellier, 41 p.
  •  Birnbaum, P. 2017. Spatialisation de la diversité et de la structure : un enjeu pour la conservation des forêts tropicale.y HDR memoir, ED Gaia, Univ. Montpellier, 91 p.

Main scientific production (ACL only)

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