I work at INRA, URFM in Avignon, France.
I am a population biologist interested in the mechanisms underlying local adaptation, and in particular microgeographic adaptation, that is, adaptation to environmental variations occurring within populations – or to make it more formal, occurring over distances comparable to dispersal distances. Such processes are theoretically related to the maintenance of diversity within populations and to a selection-dispersal balance, and can occur when the environment is patchy or changes abruptly over short distances. I contend that such conditions are encountered frequently by plant populations, e. g. in soil composition and fertility, light and water availability, competition, occurrence of predators.
My background is in molecular biology and molecular population genetics, and has evolved to include quantitative genetics, statistical population genetics and genomics.
I like to work cooperatively with people from other fields, in a truly multidisciplinary approach to tackle the question of microgeographic adaptation. I collaborate (mostly) with ecologists, ecophysiologists and statisticians, locally and in other research centres, to build a comprehensive view of adaptation, covering all of its aspects (Darwinian selection, demography, plasticity, …).
My biological models are forest trees. I have worked on Alpine / nordic species (spruce), then on tropical trees (the Amazon and Guiana shield) and now I focus on Mediterranean and continental species (pines, beech). I consider trees an excellent study system to investigate microgeographic adaptation, thanks to their large, perennial populations, high fecundity and genetic diversity. I am a lover of trees and forests, and I consider it very important to contribute to the study of adaptation in the prospect of climate change, as this may help preserving forests worldwide from the threats associated to global warming.
I am also active in science popularisation. I am involved in the presentation of evolutionary theory and ideas to the general public of all ages, and I do not hesitate to argue for proven scientific facts of evolution when they come under attack by anti-science groups. I am in favour of public, independent research and I favour a publication system that values quality of science above publisher industrial goals.