I am an evolutionary biologist and ecologist working at the French Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). My lab is located at the Sophia-Antipolis research station (the Sophia Agrobiotech Institute), next to the cities of Antibes, Cannes and Nice (map).
My interest is in the modeling and experimental study of how natural selection causes changes in traits in ecological communities, with emphasis on traits and behaviors related to movements and dispersal over spatially structured habitats.
My favorite model systems are insects. Currently I have projects on two systems:
- The European Corn Borers (ECB), moths from genus Ostrinia that are major pests of maize worldwide. We are studying how behavioral divergence (in terms of geotaxis) may be associated to host-shift and speciation, in response to human agricultural practices.
- Parasitic wasps of genus Trichogramma. These tiny insects are egg-parasitoids that attack the eggs of several insect hosts (including those of the ECB above). They have high economic value as biocontrol agents for crop protection. They also have very interesting characteristics for studying the evolution of movement behaviors in the lab.
<< ECB caterpillars seemingly have evolved the tendency to move down maize stalks, to avoid being killed at harvest time (see Calcagno et al. 2010). Picture from the NY Times (click on image to see the NYT report).
A nice aquarel of a female Trichogramma cacoeciae (about 0.4 mm long), a parthenogenetic species I am currently studying in the lab. >>