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Posted by on Nov 17, 2013 in Field Trip | 0 comments

A week in the CNRS Research Center of Chizé

As part of the unit “Management of Ecosystem Biodiversity”, we spent one week (30th of September to 4th of October) in the CNRS Research Center of Chizé. In order to get the best out of this experience, we spent this week with a group of French master students. The purposes of this week were to learn more about the research projects of the CNRS scientists, to collaborate with our colleagues on a small research project and to observe the wildlife present in the forest around the Research Center.

During the whole week, a few researchers presented us their work:

– David Pinaud: “Introductory presentation about the CNRS Research Center”.
During this talk, Mr. Pinaud introduced us to the different teams and research topics conducted in the CNRS Research Center.

– Alice Carravieri: “Ecotoxicological studies in Seabirds”.
This presentation was focused on the basic principles to assess the quantity of contaminants in an ecosystem and also the use of isotopes to determine foraging strategies.

– Charly Bost: “Foraging strategies of marine predators”.
Dr. Bost spoke to us about the cost of foraging strategies in seabirds and marine mammals. He also explained different technologies that we can use to track individuals (GPS, GLS, Argos).

– Laurie Thiers: “Conservation of marine top predators in the Southern Indian Ocean”.
This last talk was about the conservation of seabirds and marine mammals in the Crozet Archipelagos. The two main topics were the distribution of petrels and how to use this information to determine biodiversity hotspots.

In order to get to know the biodiversity present around the Center, we went on two fieldtrips to the forest. One was concerning snakes, how to catch them and measure them and the second one was about freshwater animals. Furthermore, we had a tour of the herpetology lab and we were able to see and manipulate snakes from all over the world.

The main goal of the week was to conduct a small research project and most of our time was allocated to this task. We formed 5 groups of 7 to 8 persons (IMAE and French students mixed). Every group had a doctorate tutor and was provided with a specific dataset.

Firstly, we went through the whole dataset to have a better overview of which hypotheses we could form. This step was the most difficult one because of the huge amount of data and parameters. After that, we started to do some literature research to learn more about the subject and at the same time we ran some statistical tests. Finally, we brainstormed on all the information we had gathered in order to connect the different parts we were working on and to create the presentation afterwards.

The last afternoon of the week was dedicated to the presentations and a jury composed of all the tutors was there to assess us. The 5 presentations were: “The concentration of mercury in seabird chick feathers and its distribution around the Kerguelen Archipelagos”, “Long term impact of clear cutting on birds of boreal forest”, “Foraging behaviour of the Wandering Albatross inferred from δ13C signatures”, “Effect of different personality traits on the reproductive success of the snow petrel (Pagodroma nivea) and “Environmental factors which can impact the abundance of carabid beetles in agricultural landscapes”.

Despite the difficulties we faced, this week was really enriching to learn how to work fast and in a team. To be able to fulfil the task, we had to work a lot (8h to 00h everyday) and to be involved 100%. However, even with such an important workload we always found time at the end of the day to talk to each other and to get to know each other better, around a glass of wine of course.

Concerning our personal experience, this week was good to increase the link between the IMAErs but also to create new links with the French students. Another good point was that we really levelled up in volleyball (good way to have a break between all those hours of work) and that we had our stomach full and happy during the whole week.

Julia Migné & Afroditi Kardamaki

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