Ref. LIEC-PUP-18-1

18-month Research Position on:

Evaluating the ecological status of French deep rivers with taxonomy-based and trait-based metrics derived from macroinvertebrate assemblages

A post-doctoral position is available in the group “Stress Ecology” (ECOSE) of the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Continental Environments (LIEC; CNRS UMR 7360 –, University of Lorraine, as a part of a Scientific Project on bio-assessment methods and ecological diagnostic tools in streams and rivers at large spatial scale. The project is supported by the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB).


The Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Continental Environments (LIEC) was created in January 2013 by merging of three laboratories: the LIEBE, the LIMOS, and the LEM (half of the staff). The primary objective of the LIEC is to understand the functionning of continental environments strongly impacted by human activity, in order to contribute to their rehabilitation. In this purpose, the LIEC has implemented an interdisciplinary research, allying the concepts and methods of environmental mineralogy, soil science, microbial ecology, colloidal physicochemistry, ecotoxicology and functional ecology.
The Working Group “Stress Ecology” investigates the effects of anthropogenic stressors (e.g. toxicants, hydromorphological or hydrological alterations, climate change) on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, particularly on invertebrates, fishes, macrophytes, microorganisms and ecosystem processes.

To meet the Water Framework Directive requirements, a new multimetric index (I2M2) has been designed for the invertebrate-based ecological assessment of French wadeable streams (Mondy et al., 2012). Integrating five taxonomy- and trait-based metrics selected for their high discrimination efficiency, low pressure specificity, high stability in least impaired conditions and low redundancy, this index is meant to identify impaired reaches for 17 anthropogenic pressure categories potentially impairing water quality or habitat.

To complement the I2M2 index, an invertebrate-based diagnostic tool (Mondy & Usseglio-Polatera, 2013) has been developed, evaluating the individual risk of invertebrate assemblage impairment by 17 types of physico-chemical, hydromorphological and/or watershed land-use-related stressor types.

Now, benefiting from our experience on wadeable rivers and from preliminary exploration of available data sets, we aim at developing a new National invertebrate-based multimetric index for deep rivers (and potentially associated diagnostic tool), with the specific challenge of defining reference conditions for such systems.

Research area of the research position:

Major tasks:

* Contribution to the development of a new taxonomy- and trait-based multimetric index for the evaluation of the ecological status of (i) large and very large French rivers, but also (ii) small deep (i.e. “unwadeable”) rivers (sampled with a homogenenous protocol for deep rivers).

* Contribution to the development and characterization of novel ecological diagnostic tools based on the invertebrate assemblages (but extension to other “Biological Quality Elements” (BQEs); e.g. diatoms and/or fishes – could be examined) of deep rivers for assessing specific risks of river degradation (including water quality and habitat degradation stressor types) under multiple pressure cenario (see for example for wadeable rivers, similar approaches in Mondy & Usseglio-Polatera, 2013 or Larras et al. 2017).

* Field evaluation and large scale validation of these novel diagnostic tools, via between-sites comparison of faunal/floral data collected with standardized, well established sampling protocols (about 1800 sampling sites have been surveyed, in the five European biogeographic regions covered by the study).

* Contribution to the development of models evaluating the impairment risk of rivers by specific water quality or hydromorphology-related stressors, based on a multi-scale description of environmental conditions.

The successful candidate will collaborate with at least the project coordinator, two other post-doctoral students and Master students working mainly on the development of (i) “early warning indicators” of anthropogenic stress and (ii) multi-scale ecological risk modeling in rivers. He will also interact with national partners involved in such topics [e.g. the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB), the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA), the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), Water Agencies, and the Ministry of Ecology].

This position is under the supervision of Pr. Philippe Usseglio-Polatera, [LIEC, CNRS UMR 7360, “Stress Ecology” (ECOSE) group, University of Lorraine, Metz, France].

Cited references:
MONDY C., VILLENEUVE B., ARCHAIMBAULT V., USSEGLIO-POLATERA P. 2012. A new macroinvertebrate based multimetric index (I2M2) to evaluate ecological quality of French wadeable streams fulfilling the WFD demands: a taxonomical and trait approach. Ecological Indicators, 18, 452-467.
MONDY C. & USSEGLIO-POLATERA P. 2013. Using conditional tree forests and life history traits to assess specific risks of stream degradation under multiple pressure scenario. Science of the Total Environment, 461/462, 750-760.
LARRAS F., BILLOIR E., GAUTREAU E., COULAUD R., ROSEBERY J., USSEGLIO-POLATERA P. 2017. Assessing anthropogenic pressures on streams: a random forest approach based on benthic diatom communities. Science of the Total Environment, 586, 1101-1112.

Starting date: April 1st, 2018 or as agreed

Contract duration: Full time temporary position for 18 months

Gross Salary: 2400-2760 €/Month (depending on previous experiences)

Your profile:
– PhD in ecology or biostatistics with good training in descriptive/inferential statistics utilization on large data sets. Applications are particularly encouraged from candidates with expertise in field sampling; invertebrate ecology, trait-based approaches and interest in multivariate analyses, null models, random forest models, and/or Bayesian statistics. A very good background in R software utilization is necessary. A solid experience in geographic information system (GIS) software utilization will be appreciated.
– Research interest and background in aquatic ecology, modelling, large data sets and interdisciplinary aquatic sciences projects.
– Dynamic, enthusiastic and autonomous character
– Good knowledge of spoken French (or at least enthusiasm to learn French): an additional advantage for contacts with representatives from French administrations.
– Excellent communication skills.

To apply: Interested applicants are requested to send a detailed letter describing their motivation and competences, a complete and updated Curriculum Vitae, a list of publications, addresses of 3 potential referees, and a summary of their PhD thesis (2 pages max). Applications and informal queries should be sent by e-mail to: [email protected]
You are welcome to submit your application no later than 31 March 2018.

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