The project of CESCO hinges on two large axes:
1. To measure biodiversity and understand its processes
In order to understand the mechanisms at the root of the decline in biodiversity, it is necessary to describe its variations throughout time and space. In order to carry out this description, an important job resides in the elaboration of indicators for monitoring biodiversity. The determination of these indicators should allow for the measuring, as simply and effectively as possible, of the response of biodiversity to different menaces or human actions.
Determining indicators for the monitoring of biodiversity further allows for the achievement of prospective studies and for the elaboration of scenarios of its evolution under different environmental conditions. It’s an aid for decision-making in political, joint, or individual choices. In order to measure biodiversity, our participatory tracking programs have resulted in the production of an unparalleled volume of standardised data describing the variation in the abundances of a large number of groups of species, at large spatial and temporal scales. This data, accompanied by information rendered from the biological traits of the species, their genes and their phylogeny, allows the researchers to analyse with finesse the current processes of evolution.
What biodiversity? Which societies?
Our objects of study cover all of the components of biodiversity and concern ordinary nature as much as rare or heritage species. The relations between biodiversity and society are studied primarily in the Western context.
The work conducted within CESCO has for example showed that certain species shift their distributional range in response to climate change, but not fast enough in relation to the rate at which temperatures are rising. The results equally highlight the predominant but often neglected role of changes in land use (agriculture, urbanisation) in the current transformations of biodiversity. These pressures translate into a profound restructuring of the communities of common species forming the ordinary nature, which has consequences for the functioning of ecosystems and the services that they provide to human society.
2- Accompany the necessary social transformations
In order to offer responses to the level of complexity and urgency from the issues posed by the current biodiversity “crisis,” an important axis of research of CESCO is concerned with studying the social dimension of the conservation of nature. To this end, our work utilises, by adapting to the renewable character of biodiversity, the framework developed by Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize in Economics, which defines an emancipatory space of effective freedom from citizens. Two scales of analysis are favoured: collective regulations – legislative or contractual – and individual choices, themselves connected to the understanding, motivations, and human relations to nature.
Our projects in the future
→ To describe the scenarios of crossover between biodiversity and our political and economic choices.
→ To contribute to the invention of a new social contract based on our dependence on the living.
→ To propose and animate new participatory science programs thanks to innovative technological developments, like automatic analysis for the recognition of sounds and images, in order to magnify the collection of useful data in bettering the understanding of biodiversity.