I am a researcher in ecology. My work focuses on the population ecology and evolution of life history traits of herbivorous mammals. I have been particularly interested in the effects of sexual selection on population dynamics and life history tactics

I pay a special attention to the application of my results to wildlife management, mainly of ungulate species through a close collaboration with researchers from the ONCFS

Ongoing Projects

  • Life-history tactics of roe deer in a highly constraining environment, with Jean-Michel Gaillard & Floriane Plard
  • Red deer habitat selection on the Western Coast of Norway - with Atle Mysterud & Leif Egil Loe
  • Impact of climate change on Alpine marmots, with Aurélie Cohas
  • Estimation of reproductive success of female red deer at La Petite Pierre, France - with Jean-Luc Hamann & Maryline Pellerin
  • Rutting behaviour of roe deer from geolocation data, with Nicolas Morellet & Atle Mysterud
  • Urban ecology of the European red squirrel in the Tête d'Or Parc, Lyon, France with Aurélie Cohas


front EcologyLetters
  • /!\ Étudiants/!\ -- désolé, c'est plein, je n'ai plus la possibilité de vous prendre en stage de recherche
  • March 2015 - A local newspaper highlights our annual EURODEER meeting
[Past News]

May 2014 - Our paper on the impact of climate change on roe deer demography makes the front page of Ecology Letters's special issue. Roe deer is becoming famous! March 20th 2014 - A short newspaper published by 'Le Monde' about the roe deer project at Chizé, click here to read
Étudiants M2 pro -- proposition de stage sur les risques de collisions entre véhicules et grande faune, avec Christine Saint-Andrieux et Maryline Pellerin de l'ONCFS. March. 2013 - Ecology front page! Our paper by Marion Tafani about climate change and Alpine marmot life-histories will illustrate the front page of Ecology in the issue of March!
Feb. 2013 - A French TV will be shooting a roe deer capture session at Chizé.
Feb. 2013 - Lucille Palazy successfully defended her PhD on the 12th of February about trophy hunting and Allee effect in mammals. Congratulations!
Jan. 2013 - First captured roe deer at Chizé on the 5th of January.
Jun. 2012 - Garden Party at the CEBC to celebrate the end of a successful roe deer catching session. Event highlighted in the Courrier de l'Ouest, a local newspaper.
Jan. 2012 - Animal Conservation features our paper Palazy & col. in its issue of February
Jan. 2012 - France 3 will be shooting a roe deer capture session at Chizé to cast on French TV
Nov. 2011 - Plaisir de la chasse (numéro 712, p. 30) highlighted our paper Milner & col. to appear in the European Journal of Wildlife Research

Five Recently Accepted Papers

  • Mills, J.A., Teplitsky, C., Charmantier, A., Becker, P.H., Birkhead, T.R., Bize, P., Blumstein, D.T., Bonenfant, C., Bushuev, A., Cam, E., Cockburn, A., Coulson, J.C., Daunt, F., Dingemanse, N., Doligez, B., Drummond, H., Espie, R.H., Festa-Bianchet, M., Frentiu, F., Fitzpatrick, J.W., Garant, D., Grant, P.R., Griesser, M., Gustafsson, L., Harris, M.P., Linnell, J.D.C., Jiguet, F., Kempenaers, B., Kjellander, P., Koenig, W.D., Korpimäki, E., Krebs, C., Lens, L., Lopez, B.A., Low, M., Margalida, A., Møller, A.P., Kakagawa, S., Nansson, B., Nilsson, J.-Å, Nisbet, I.C.T., van Noordwijk, A., Oro, D., Packer, C., Pärt, T., Pelletier, F., Potti, J., Pujol, B., Réale, D., Rockwell, R.F., Ropert-Coudert, Y., Roulin, A., Sedinger, J.S., Swenson, J., Visser, M.E., Wanless, S., Westneat, D.F., Wilson, A. & Zedrosser, A. The requirement to archive individual data: specific issues for long-term studies and potential solutions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, in press.[pdf]
    [Learn more]

    Summary: The recent requirement by a number of journals and funding agencies for open access to raw data included in publications has been embraced by many biologists, but has caused apprehension amongst researchers engaged in long-term studies of individuals. A worldwide survey among 73 principal investigators (PIs) of long-term studies has indicated that PIs generally support sharing data due to its great scientific value. However, uncontrolled open access to individual raw long-term data is a source of concern to 63% of these PIs. Since the archiving policy was introduced, 56% of the PIs with long-term data indicated that they either have or will avoid publishing papers in such journals. In terms of investments and expected output, long-term individual-based data can be better understood as research infrastructure that is the foundation of publications, which propel researchers’ careers and those of the PhD students and postdoctoral fellows who work on these programs. Allowing people who played no part in the design, collection, funding and formulation of the research that produced the data to have unfettered access to such data is a disincentive for researchers to initiate and maintain long-term studies, and it may also incur other unforeseen costs to science such as simultaneous work on identical subjects or monitoring and checking of papers conceived with poor knowledge of the study system.

  • Douhard, M., Festa-Bianchet, M., Pelletier, F., Gaillard, J.-M. & Bonenfant, C. Changes in horn size of Stone's sheep over four decades correlate with trophy hunting pressure. Ecological Applications, in press.[pdf]
    [Learn more]

    Summary: Selective harvest may lead to rapid evolutionary change. For large herbivores, trophy hunting removes males with large horns. That artificial selection, operating in opposition to sexual selection, can lead to undesirable consequences for management and conservation. There have been no comparisons of long-term changes in trophy size under contrasting harvest pressures. We analyzed horn measurements of Stone's rams (Ovis dalli stonei) harvested over 37 years in two large regions of British Columbia, Canada, with marked differences in hunting pressure to identify when selective hunting may cause a long-term decrease in horn growth. Under strong selective harvest, horn growth early in life and the number of males harvested declined respectively by 12% and 45% over the study period. Horn shape also changed over time: horn length became shorter for a given base circumference, likely because horn base is not a direct target of hunter selection. In contrast, under relatively lower hunting pressure, there were no detectable temporal trends in early horn growth, number of males harvested or horn length relative to base circumference. Trophy hunting is an important recreational activity and can generate substantial revenues for conservation. By providing a reproductive advantage to males with smaller horns and reducing the availability of desirable trophies, however, excessive harvest may have the undesirable long-term consequences of reducing both the harvest and the horn size of rams. These consequences can be avoided by limiting offtake.

  • Plard, F., Gaillard, J.-M., Coulson, T.N., Delorme, D., Warnant, C., Michallet, J., Tuljapurkar, S., Krishnakumar, S. & Bonenfant, C. Quantifying the influence of measured and unmeasured individual differences on demography. Journal of Animal Ecology, in press.[pdf]
    [Learn more]

    Summary: 1. Demographic rates can vary not only with measured individual characters like age, sex and mass but also with unmeasured individual variables like behaviour, genes and health. 2. Predictions from population models that include measured individual char- acteristics often differ from models that exclude them. Similarly, unmeasured individual differences have the potential to impact predictions from popula- tion models. However, unmeasured individual differences are rarely included in population models. 3. We construct stage-and-age structured models (where stage is mass) of a roe deer population, which are parameterized from statistical functions that either include, or ignore, unmeasured individual differences. 4. We found that mass and age structures substantially impacted model param- eters describing population dynamics, as did temporal environmental varia- tion, while unmeasured individual differences impacted parameters describ- ing population dynamics to a much smaller extent once individual hetero- geneity related to mass and age has been included in the model. We discuss how our assumptions (unmeasured individual differences only in mean trait values) could have inffuenced our findings and under what circumstances un- measured individual differences could have had a larger impact on population dynamics. 5. There are two reasons explaining the relative small inffuence of unmeasured individual differences on population dynamics in roe deer. First, individual body mass and age both capture a large amount of individual differences in roe deer. Second, in large populations of long-lived animals, the average quality of individuals (independent of age and mass) within the population is unlikely to show substantial variation over time, unless rapid evolution is occurring. So even though a population consisting of high quality individuals would have much higher population growth rate than a population consisting of low quality individuals, the probability of observing a population consist- ing only of high quality individuals is small.

  • Lardy, S., Allainé, D., Bonenfant, C. & Cohas, A. Sex-specific determinants of fitness in a social mammal. Ecology, in press.[pdf]
    [Learn more]

    Summary: Sociality should evolve when the fitness benefits of group-living outweigh the costs. Theoretical models predict an optimal group size maximizing individual fitness. However, beyond the number of individuals present in a group, the characteristics of these individuals, like their sex, are likely to affect the fitness payoffs of group-living. Using 20 years of individually based data on a social mammal, the Alpine marmot (\textit{Marmota marmota}), we tested for the occurence of an optimal group size and composition, and for sex-specific effects of group characteristics on fitness. Based on lifetime data of 52 males and 39 females, our findings support the existence of an optimal group size maximizing males' fitness and an optimal group composition maximizing fitness of males and females. And, although group characteristics (\textit{i.e}. size, composition and instability) affecting males' and females' fitness differed, fitness depended strongly on the number of same-sex subordinates within the social group in the two sexes. By comparing multiple measures of social group characteristics and of fitness in both sexes, we highlighted the sex-specific determinants of fitness in the two sexes, and revealed the crucial role of intra-sexual competition in shaping social groups.

  • Plard, F., Yoccoz, N., Bonenfant, C., Klein, F., Warnant, C. & Gaillard, J.-M. Disentangling direct and growth-mediated influences on early survival: a mechanistic approach. Journal of Animal Ecology, in press.[pdf]
    [Learn more]

    Summary: 1. Early survival is a key life-history trait that often accounts for a large part of the variation in individual fitness and that shapes population dynamics. The factors influencing early survival are multiple in large herbivores, including malnutrition, predation, cohort or maternal effects. However, how these drivers influence early survival has been much less studied. Indeed, whether these factors influence directly early survival or indirectly through early growth remains to be disentangled. The mechanisms explaining the link between early survival, early growth, phenotypic attributes and envi- ronmental factors remain to be identified to understand better how early survival vary across years and among individuals. 2. In this study, we used a path analysis to separate the direct and indirect (i.e. mediated by early growth) effects of sex, birth date, cohort and family effects. We used a large dataset on early survival of roe deer fawns collected from 1985 to 2010 in the intensively monitored population of Trois Fontaines (France). 3. We found that most drivers have indirect influences on early survival through early growth. Indeed, cohort effects affected early survival through indirect effects of density and precipitations on early growth during the birth period. Nevertheless, population density also had direct effects on early survival. Family effects influenced also indirectly early survival. Twins from a same litter had the same fate because they grew at about the same rate. Never- theless, some factors as birth date had both direct and indirect effects on roe deer early survival, with fawns born early in the season benefiting from high early survival both because they have more time to grow before the harsh season and because they grow faster during their first days of life than late born fawns. 4. These findings demonstrate that most drivers of early survival previously identified affect early survival primarily through their influence on early growth. Disentangling the direct and indirect effects of the different fac- tors influencing a key component of individual fitness like early survival is of crucial importance to understand life-history strategies and population dynamics.

[Last update on 08/06/2015]