SIFER 2016 — International Doctoral Course on Stable Isotopes


SIFER post April

Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research
25-29 April
INRA Nancy-Lorraine Center


The University of Lorraine (RP2E Doctoral School) and the French National Insitute of Agricultural Research (INRA), within the framework of LabEx ARBRE, are organizing a fourth edition of the International Doctoral Course “Stable Isotopes in Forest Ecosystem Research” (SIFER). The week-long course will be held on the INRA Nancy-Lorraine campus in Champenoux from April 25 to April 29, 2016.

Many ecological processes that occur in forest ecosystems produce a distinct isotopic footprint which can then be used to trace the origin and transfer of major elements into ecological processes, to decipher the effects environmental changes have on metabolic pathways and to understand complex interactions between ecosystem compartments and ecological processes in trees, and more broadly, in forests. Environmental isotope techniques are proven tools for providing relevant information on forest ecosystems and is an area that is experiencing rapid technological advancement.

The primary objective of the SIFER doctoral course is to offer students with an introduction to how stable isotopes are used in forest ecosystem research. The conferences will provide an overview of the main stable isotopes for the carbon, nitrogen and water used in forest ecosystem research, the fractionation processes that affect the distribution of isotopes in different ecosystem compartments, and the use of isotopes (tracers and natural abundance) for modeling different spatial and temporal scales. Questions relating to instrumentation, technological choices and the quality of the measurements will also be addressed. Practical applications and digital exercises will be conducted throughout the week in small groups of students who will have the use of equipment belonging to the functional ecology technical platform.

SIFER is open to all PhD students worldwide currently working on stable isotopes and is not exclusive to studies focused on trees and forests. All courses will be held in English.

For more information, visit the SIFER homepageSIFER 2016

ARBRE Conference — Matthias Saurer

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Friday, 29 April
INRA Nancy-Lorraine (Champenoux)
11h — Main conference room


Dr. Matthias Saurer, a researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland) will present a seminar entitled :“Stable isotopes in tree-rings: from process-based studies to large spatial scales”.  This conference is a part of the international doctoral course ‘SIFER’ (with support from LabEx ARBRE) and is open to all staff.

The homogenization of forests diminishes the diversity of their ecosystem services

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The homogenization of forest ecosystems and the decline in tree diversity are diminishing the ability of forests to supply essential ecosystem services such as wood production or carbon storage. A collective of European research scientists, involving INRA and CNRS has just published these findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Their results are based on a comparative modeling approach applied to forests in six European countries.

During recent decades, human activities have led to the extinction of numerous species, at both the local and global levels.  In parallel, these activities, such as agricultural and forest plantations, and the introduction and expansion of exotic species, have also generated an increasing homogenization of ecosystems at a global scale, in terms of their composition in plant and animal species.  This biotic homogenization phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the “MacDonald’s effect”, by analogy with large shopping centers that are increasingly being dominated by a small number of franchises, leading to a standardization of supply and a drop in quality.  In European forests, the decline of tree diversity and biotic homogenization are two very widespread phenomena.   However, although numerous scientific studies have focused on the effects of species depletion on human well-being, no research had previously demonstrated the consequences of biotic homogenization with respect to the diversity of ecosystem services, benefits that are generated for human societies by natural ecosystems.

By means of a major European collaborative project involving 29 research teams (FunDivEUROPE), the scientists combined data on forests in six countries (Germany, Spain, Finland, Italy, Poland and Romania).  They first of all collected a large quantity of data on the different functions and services fulfilled by forest ecosystems, before using computer simulations to test the effects of biotic homogenization and the decline in tree diversity on the ability of forest ecosystems to assure sixteen essential functions, such as the production of construction timber, carbon storage, pest resistance or maintaining bird diversity.

Their study showed that the effects of the decline in tree species are very variable, while under almost all the scenarios studied, biotic homogenization is having a negative impact on the ability of forests to supply numerous ecosystem services.  This can be explained by the fact that not all tree species supply the same services to the same degree.  For example, in Polish forests, the European spruce produces construction timber of very good quality, while hornbeam forests foster the presence of a diversity of plants that will be favorable to ecotourism, for example.  Landscapes that comprise different types of forest are thus more capable of supplying a diversified range of ecosystem services than those where forests are dominated by the same tree species.

These effects suggest that minimizing the “MacDonald’s effect”, for example by preventing invasion by exotic species or using a broader diversity of trees in forest plantations, might favor the multifunctionality of forests and thus find a response to environmental, economic and social demands.

For more information ..


FunDivEUROPE (Functional Significance of Forest Biodiversity in Europe) is a European collaborative project that aims to quantify the role of forest biodiversity in the functioning of ecosystems and the supply of goods and services in the principal types of European forests.  The consortium involves 24 partner institutions in 15 countries, coordinated by the University of Freiburg (Germany). The project was initiated in 2010 and funded under the 7th EU Framework Programme (FP7).

A seminar on assessing management scenarios in multifunctional forestry

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Multi-criteria Analysis —

Assessing different management scenarios in the context of ‘multifunctional forestry’ (evaluating technical tools, production systems, etc.) requires applying multiple simultaneous approaches in order to fully understand the different economic, environmental and social implications. It also serves to identify typically multiple (conflicting) objectives of stakeholders in the sector.

Multi-criteria Analysis is a framework of modeling methodologies designed to support scientists in complex decision-making environments. It explicitly considers (1) criteria selected to evaluate the studied scenarios, (2) indicators for these criteria and (3) aggregation rules defining preferences between different indicators. Provided explanations for these choices makes the method transparent and ensures that a positive exchange can take place between actors involved in the problematic being studied.

Multi-criteria Analysis is currently being widely used to assess agricultural production systems. A number of tools and methods of analysis have been developed in France and have allowed for greater development of operational decision support tools. These methods have to a lesser degree also been used in the context of natural environments and forest management.

The focus of this seminar —

This seminar will examine the full range of initiatives conducted in France by researchers and R&D teams who have used Multi-criteria Analysis in the context of natural resources management and forest planning with the view of opening a dialogue about what opportunities exist for putting in place a coordinated approach for using Multi-criteria Analysis to evaluate natural resources management and forest planning.


“Multi-criteria Analysis applied to natural resources management and forest planning”

Date : 23 June 2016
Place :  AgroParisTech, Nancy (Salle Jacomon)
LERFOB (Catherine Collet, Mériem Fournier, Holger Wernsdörfer, Corrine Martin)
Supported by : the INRA EFPA Department and LabEx ARBRE
Contact :  or
Registration :
This seminar is open to everyone. Online registration is required, please make sure you do so before June 1, 2016 by following this link :   Registration form

For more information, download the the provisional program here (the final version of the program will be made available on the ARBRE website in early June).


ARBRE 2016 CFP — The Award Winners

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The main objective of the LabEx ARBRE 2016 call for project proposals was to reinforce collaborative research between LabEx teams and other centers of excellence in Europe and North America. Ultimately to support original projects on the forefront of science or projects with high knowledge-transfer potential. For a full list of the 18 selected projects with links to their detailed summary pages, please follow this link :  LabEx ARBRE AAP 2016 — Awarded Projects


Predicting and understanding forest dynamics — ARBRE & RMT AFORCE launch 3 new projects










The 2015 joint call for proposals launched by the AFORCE network and LabEx ARBRE has resulted in the launch of three new knowledge-transfer projects. They focus on predictive mapping and modeling of forest dynamics :

  • IKSMAPS : Producing precalculated potential future distribution maps for the main species of French forests through IKS modeling
  • PRESTATION-NO : Spatial prediction for forest stations in northwestern France
  • SYLFORCLIM: Mediterranean and Alpine forests and climate change in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Learn more about the AFORCE network

In 2008, foresters and researchers joined forces to create AFORCE, a mixed technology research and development network (RMT) devoted to the adaptation of forests to climate change. AFORCE is a multi-stakeholder network: it brings together actors in research, development, management, education and training. Its mission is to provide forest managers with practical tools and support guides to help them make the best management choices.

ARBRE publication — Ecological Economics

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Research Unit — Forest Economics Laboratory (LEF)


Assesssing the cost-effectiveness of a biodiversity conservation policy:
A bio-econometric analysis of Natura 2000 contracts for forests
Hily E, Garcia S, Stenger A, Tu G. November 2015. Ecological Economics.

The Natura 2000 European Networking Program was established to promote long-term conservation of biodiversity across Europe, with particular focus on protecting species and habitats of local community interest. As a member state, France proposed to support direct involvement of local stakeholders in the network, notably land managers and land-owners responsible for natural, agricultural and forested areas by establishing contractual relationships with the State. By agreeing to the terms of a “Natura 2000 Contract”, land managers and land-owners commit to implementing conservation measures specifically designed to favor identifiable habitats or species at risk, and receive a payment in exchange.

The objective of this study was to evaluate “Natura 2000 Contracts” designed for forest environments by using a “cost-efficiency” approach. To do this, we looked at existing Natura 2000 contracts for forests between 2007 and 2010 to determine if by definition, they contributed to biodiversity conservation through a system of monetary incentive mechanisms paid to the contract beneficiary.

Screenshot 2016-02-09 13.13.42We performed statistical analysis of all Natura 2000 forest contracts signed between 2007 and 2010 in France. We successfully quantified biodiversity levels targeted by each contract using a biodiversity index accounting for three criteria: vulnerability and rarity of species and habitats targeted by the contract, as well as richness specific to targeted habitats and species. We also considered specific socioeconomic characteristics of forest managers and land owners together with their s environments (private or public in nature, local forestry production demands or specific land constraints), to effectively study possible future conflicts or synergy between biodiversity conservation and other activities conducted by contract beneficiaries (wood production, for example). In the end, were able to propose a bio-economical model combining a biodiversity conservation cost function with a biodiversity and wood production function.

Overall, our results emphasize the relevance and effectiveness of the Natura 2000 established objectives and may act as a decision support tool for policy recommendations related to contracts targeting, ultimately to enhance the cost-effectiveness of the incentive scheme.

SURVIVORS — budding student researchers analyze their first results !

class survivors


On Thursday, January 28, SURVIVORS project team members met on-site with middle-school students at the Collège d’Einville au Jars.

SURVIVORS, a participatory research project :

Two years ago, 80 middle-school students at the collège d’Einville au Jars began their “Survivors” adventure : an original participatory research project was launched by a team of INRA researchers (the Joint Research Unit for Forest Ecology and Ecophysiology – UMR EEF) with support from LabEx ARBRE and the Nancy-Champenoux Center for Environmental Initiatives (CPIE). Accompanied by their teachers and researchers, these students actively participated in an experiment conducted in a Champenoux nursery aimed at understanding how young beech trees survive when faced with significant changes in their water-carbon-nitrogen functioning. To do this, each student became a sponsor for their own beech tree which they carefully defoliated (up to 75%) by following precise experimentation protocol.

Prior to their visit in January, the researchers provided the students, currently in their 3rd class, growth data of the beech trees that they had each sponsored. Each student had calculated the growth in diameter and height, the surface and the number of leaves on their trees which had been subjected to defoliation. Each of the three classes built models of allometric relationships with all of the sponsored trees. In class this last Thursday the project team tested the college students on their appropriation of the scientific approach. The researchers then presented other sets of results and discussed them with the students drawing specific attention to related mathematical concepts. The students completed a questionnaire in their research notebooks and will continue their analysis with their life Sciences teachers. The next meeting between these budding scientists and project researchers is set to take place in Champenoux, late May 2016.

4 survivors

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