Research projects


[2014] Spatial variation of biodiversity as perceived by the Geneva metropolitan populationTracking traces of natural landscape in a collective memory to support urban health assessment – CROSS project

Green spaces and biodiversity have an extremely important role in urban areas. They have a clear impact on water flow, on microclimate regulation, on air quality, and on the health of residents. In recent years, the progressive urbanization implied a strong fragmentation of semi-natural environments, what clearly endangers urban biodiversity and causes decline in the quality of life of the population.
There is empirical evidence showing that interacting with nature in cities delivers measurable benefits to people. We argue that these beneficial effects are the expression of a social memory of the interaction between man and nature, such as traces of the vital importance that the natural environment constitutes for humans. GREENTRACE investigates what is the content of the social representation of biodiversity in urban areas, what are the benefits and the limits people attribute to this diversity, and to what extent this representation is based on local biodiversity. Several hundreds of Geneva residents will be interviewed and the information collected will be compared with scientific biodiversity measures and public health data.


[2014-2017] SNSF interdisciplinary project in collaboration with the WSL group of Ecological Genetics, the Laboratory of Evolutionary Botany at the University of Neuchâtel and the G2C Institute at the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland in Yverdon-les-Bains (HEIG-VD). The goal is to investigate the contribution of Very High Resolution (VHR) Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) acquired by means of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SenseFly drones) for multiscale analysis in landscape genomics.

An emerging objective in molecular ecology is to identify the appropriate spatial scale at which to study adaptation in plants. An answer to this may come from landscape genomics, which amalgamates population genetics and evolutionary theory with landscape ecology, i.e. the conformation of landscape elements and local environmental conditions. To date, the establishment of links between genetic polymorphisms and local environmental conditions largely relies on limited numbers of molecular markers and on data from coarse interpolation of long-term climatic conditions. While deep genotyping of entire genomes has become feasible in recent years owing to frantic technological progress, the use of remote sensing for describing landscape and microsite conditions has remained underexploited. DEMs have great potential to produce environmental variables (primary and secondary topographic attributes) that may help to identify genomic regions possibly involved in adaptive processes. It has been recently shown that VHR DEMs can be ideally generalized using wavelet transform to produce environmental variables at different nested scales, resulting in a more continuous representation of the landscape, as it exists in nature. The processing of association models between environmental variables extracted from these DEMs and genome-wide polymorphisms are likely to provide important insights on the impact of scale on the significance of these associations.

Here, we propose to deduce environmental conditions across four regions in the north-western Swiss Alps using DEMs acquired by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, eBee, SenseFly technology), and by light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data. We will confront these high-resolution environmental descriptions with whole-genome polymorphisms, including variation in the distribution of transposable elements (TEs) obtained from next generation re-quencing-based genome characterization of individual plants. The goal of GENESCALE is to answer the following questions: (i) at what spatial scale, and in response to which environmental factors, can is it possible to identify signals of local adaptation, and (ii) to what degree do genic vs. non-genic fractions of the genome contribute to the genome-wide signatures of adaptation?

As a target species, we will use Arabis alpina, a widespread Brassicaceae with divergent ecological requirements and likely to become a model plant for ecological genomics.


[2013-2015] See (active soon)


[2010-2014] NEXTGEN is the first project in the area of conservation genetics that proposes a comparative analysis of whole genome data at the intraspecific level. Therefore, the project will gather data on an unprecedented scale on all major types of genetic variation in the genome of cattle, sheep and goats. A high impact is expected, far beyond the farm animal scientific community mainly on conservation and evolutionary biology. More specifically, NEXTGEN will provide precise methodology for studying the biodiversity aspect of disease resistance and the relationships between genome and environment (landscape genomics).


[2011-2012] MESSAGE is a partnership between EPFL, Lausanne (CH) and the University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble (FR). This project is funded by the program Germaine de Staël which aims at enhancing collaborations between two research teams from France and Switzerland. The aim of the group is to initialize a pluridisciplinary Franco-Swiss collaboration of training and exchange about the methodologies and spatial statistics used in landscape genetics.

Workshop programme for the ones having taken place in Lausanne


[2010-2012] Le projet eValais se propose d’établir un Atlas interactif, dynamique et collaboratif du Canton du Valais sur l’Internet. Il reprendra les éléments essentiels de l’ouvrage « Le Valais. Cartoscopie d’un espace régional » [Cosinschi 1994] en renouvelant les informations statistiques, en ouvrant la conception à des champs nouveaux, et en utilisant un environnement innovant de visualisation et de consultation de l’information. L’Atlas de 1994 sera mis à disposition sous le système d’information géographique « Géoclip », spécialement conçu pour la représentation de données thématiques de nature statistique. Les données de l’atlas original seront reprises et réactualisées, dans la limite de leur disponibilité, afin de permettre la visualisation des dynamiques du territoire valaisan. De nouvelles cartes et indicateurs seront développés afin de répondre aux besoins contemporains des acteurs du territoire valaisan. Des projets de Master en géographie pourront être réalisés dans cette optique.

Genes underlying adaptive response to solar radiation in plants

Project in partnership with Dr Christian Parisod (Laboratory of evolutionary botany, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel), main applicant.


[2010-2014] GENOMIC-RESOURCES is a 4 years ESF Research Networking Programme (from June 2010 to May 2014). The project will contribute to the education of a new generation of scientists in cutting edge approaches to the characterization, evaluation, management and conservation of Farm Animal Genetic Resources (FAnGR).


[2007-2010] GLOBALDIV “A global view of livestock biodiversity and conservation” was a three year project funded by the European Commission in the framework of the AGRI GEN RES initiative. It started in March 2007 and comprises Partners form Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. GLOBALDIV main goal is to collate a critical mass of international Experts in different fields related to the characterization of Farm Animal Genetic Resources to review the main drivers of biodiversity loss and the main strategies for FAnGR conservation. GLOBALDIV Partners and Experts will disseminate this knowledge and their experience worldwide through Review Papers, Seminars, Workshops, Summer Schools and a periodic Newsletter.


Geodemographics project with La Poste suisse.


[2001-2005] ECONOGENE project was funded by the European Union within the Quality of Life V framework programme, a programme that comprises six Key actions aiming to enhance the quality of life of European citizens and to improve the competitiveness of European industry. ECONOGENE fits in Key action 5 “Sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and integrated development of rural areas including mountain areas”, thematic area 5.1.1 “Sustainable Agriculture”.

ECONOGENE combined a molecular analysis of biodiversity, socio-economics and geostatistics to address the conservation of sheep and goat genetic resources and rural development in marginal agrosystems in Europe. To assist in situ conservation and address the relevant socio-economic factors, a co-ordinated approach was developed to define strategies of genetic management and rural development.

Member of the Econogene Consortium