24 months Postdoctoral Research Position

Egg-predation in farmland landscapes: local (crop, management) versus regional (semi natural elements, forests) effects, and management implications for small gamebirds

Contact persons:
Olivier Pays (UMR 6554 CNRS – LETG-Angers) : [email protected]
Vincent Bretagnolle (CEBC-CNRS, UMR 7372, Chizé) : [email protected]
Mathieu Sarasa (BEOPS, Toulouse) : [email protected]

Predation is one of the major driving forces of population dynamics in prey. For instance, several studies have showed that in agricultural landscapes, density of corvids can be a key driver to explain the abundance of several bird species. Indeed, corvids, eating eggs in species nesting on the ground can affect strongly their survival rate and reproductive success. Although many papers have investigated the impact of corvids on population dynamics, the real impact of these predators in bird species in agricultural landscapes remain uncertain as other factors linked to human practices (including cropping, mowing, pesticide use, hunting,…) can also play a crucial role.

In several areas in France, corvids are mostly considered as pests as they predate both game species and crops. To limit their negative impact on bird abundance and agriculture yields, several methods have been promoted including trapping, shooting,… However, the effectiveness of such practices have been challenged in the literature. Indeed, several studies have demonstrated that (1) when predator populations are controlled, this does not necessarily lead to prey recovering, (2) the strength of predator effect seem to be related to landscape attributes and human practices. In the meantime, corvid population have increased dramatically, raising concerns among both wildlife managers and farmers. The aim of this project is thus to investigate whether landscape attributes, and at which scale, influence predation rate of eggs, such that manipulating those landscape attributes may help identifying leverages to mitigate predation by corvids.

The project has started in 2017 and an experimental method using artificial nests have been successfully set up (almost 1000 artificial nests were deployed). Although this primarily study has allowed to set up a method and highlight some trends between several landscape attributes and predation rates of artificial nests, mechanisms underlying the spatio-temporal dynamics of predation remain largely unclear. It is planned to conduct similar large scale experiments in both 2018 and 2019.

The project takes place in the Zone Atelier « Plaine & Val de Sevre » (ZA PVS, part of LTSER France) which is a long term site for observation and experiments on the interactions between farming and biodiversity. In lowland arable farmland south of Niort, with the CNRS Chizé Lab at its centre, half of the ZA is a NATURA 2000 site designated for its remarkable diversity of bird species. The ZA PVS covers 450 km2, including 450 farms and 13 000 agricultural fields: data on numerous taxa and agricultural practices have been monitored since 1994. Visit the website (http://za.plainvalsevre.cnrs.fr/) for more details.

Job details:
The post is available from 1st Jan 2018
Contract duration is 24 months
The applicant will be based in both Chizé and University of Angers, but is expected to spend a very significant amount of time in Chizé, e.g. all fieldwork season.

Information enquiries should be sent to:
Olivier Pays ([email protected])
UMR 6554 CNRS – LETG-Angers
Université d’Angers – UFR Sciences
Campus de Belle-Beille
2 Bd Lavoisier
F-49045 Angers France


Vincent Bretagnolle ([email protected])
Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé
CNRS UMR 7372 – Université de La Rochelle
405 Route de La Canauderie
F-79360 Villiers-en-Bois, France

Average monthly net salary: 2100 € (net salary means that all taxes, including insurance and health care, are already payed).

Job purpose:
Field data collection and experiments using artificial nests to highlight the main landscape attributes associated to predation effect.
Data analyses
Supervision of Master students
Writing of scientific papers (several per year are expected)
Elaboration of a management strategy to limit the impact of corvids on prey species and agriculture yields.

Main responsibilities:
Analyze data and write articles related to predation effects of corvids on artificial nests and spatio-temporal variations of corvids density during the last 20 years on the area.

Coordinate and conduct fieldwork

Present work at meeting and conferences when possible

Supervise 2 MSc per year to assist the postdoc researcher in his experiments and interact with other field workers on the area

Knowledge, skills and experience needed for this job:

Mandatory: A PhD in ecology, applied ecology or landscape ecology

Essential: Publication in peer reviewed journals

Skills in computer programs and software’s (R, GIS, etc.)

Essential: Fieldwork experience

Desirable: Good knowledge in the dynamics of agricultural landscape and ecology of birds

Fluent in English

Knowledge, skills and competencies
Essential: Spatial analyses (SIG) and classic statistical analyses (R)

Mandatory: Driving license

Desirable: Some experience using spatial statistics

Personal attributes
Essential: Ability to work alone as well as part of a team

Essential: willingness to work long hours during peak of field session

Accommodation is easy to find around Chizé, for very moderate cost (eg 250 euros/month)

Application procedure
All applicants should send a detailed CV and a letter of motivation to Olivier Pays ([email protected] angers.fr) and Vincent Bretagnolle ([email protected]). We will contact you to plan an interview if you have been shortlisted.

There is no closing date, but we will select the first candidate fulfilling the job attributes.

Le contenu de cette offre est la responsabilité de ses auteurs. Pour toute question relative à cette offre en particulier (date, lieu, mode de candidature, etc.), merci de les contacter directement.

Pout toute autre question, vous pouvez contacter [email protected].