General information

The “Lagoon Ecosystems” laboratory (ECOLAG) is a CNRS-University Montpellier II- IFREMER joint research unit (UMR N° 5119) which focuses its research activities on the study of the “effects of local and global changes linked to human activities on lagoons and marine coastal ecosystems”, in the Mediterranean and tropical areas. It implies an integrative approach combining, at various scales (local, global), the characterisation of all main biological, physical and chemical components, the study of their interactions and the related functions using field experiments with mesocosms, models and quantitative tools for scenarios analysis and prediction. ECOLAG Laboratory is composed of 19 lecturers, 24 research scientists and 16 technical assistants and 22 PhD students split into 6 research teams, which are focusing on research areas such as harmful algae and algal diversity, pathogens, microbial food webs, functional ecology of macro-organisms, ecophysiological adaptation of aquatic animals during ontogenesis, immunitary responses of reared species. Emphasis is put on assessment of dynamic processes, nutrient cycles, algal blooms, quantitative ecology, ecological modelling and ecosystem functioning as well as assessment of lagoon and coastal fisheries ecosystems and their living resources. Half part of ECOLAG’s professional staff is involved in academic training in biology, theoretical and applied ecology, fisheries sciences, environmental sciences, biostatistics, etc. ECOLAG is also aiming at providing support to the elaboration of development and management options for the lagoons and coastal zones which are subject to strong anthropogenic pressures due to fishing and shellfish farming, industries, riverine inputs, etc…

National and international cooperative research programmes are implemented with research institutes and universities in France, Europe (Germany, UK, Spain, Italy), Canada, Africa (Tunisia, Senegal), South America (Mexico), Asia (Japan, Indonesia), India, New-Zeland, etc. with the financial support of the EU, of National and Regional programmes and of the private sector. ECOLAG is currently coordinating with IFREMER (Brest Centre) the research programme “Lagunes Mediterranéennes” of PNEC (France) etc.

 Evidence of special competence and references from the applicants

ECOLAG has coordinated (*)/participated in the following EU projects: ROBUST, CHABADA, EEC AIR 3: EARNRN, EEC: ASEAN/STD 3, MyxFishControl, AVINSI, IMAQUANIM, IMMUNAQUA, DITTY (*), and NoE “Marine Genomics Europe”, EUROCEANS.

(*) The objective of the DITTY project (contract N° :EVK3-CT-2002-00084) was to develop the scientific and operational bases for a sustained and rational utilisation of the available resources in Southern European Lagoons, taking into account all relevant impacts from agriculture, urban and economic activities that affect the aquatic environment, by developing information technology tools tailored for these types of ecosystems ( The development of reliable information tools required that the underlying integrated model approach has been benchmarked across a wide range of catchment-coastal lagoon ecosystem process description. The project thus put considerable emphasis on model validation and benchmarking as well as on detailed and socio-economic assessment of management options, through a close participation of economists, end-users and stakeholders.
A prototype of a Decision Support System (DSS) for the management of coastal lagoons was produced by the project. It contains a database with historical data (with the possibility to incorporate new data), a geographical information system (GIS) with tools for data analysis and a knowledge base, created from extracting information of scenario analysis and the mathematical models (coupled river-basin-coastal lagoon) plus benchmarking exercises developed within the project. The DSS was implemented and tested in five lagoons : Ria Formosa (Portugal), Mar Menor (Spain), Etang de Thau (France), Sacca di Goro (Italy) and Gera(Greece).
The project leader (Pr. David MOUILLOT) has published more than 60 international articles in the last 7 years in the field of Ecological and Environmental Studies:
  1. Mouillot D., Culioli J.M. & Do Chi T. (2002) Indicator Species analysis: an alternative to classical tests to identify non-random distribution of species with the context of marine protected areas (MPAs). Environmental Conservation. 29: 385-390.
  2. Ramos Miranda J., Mouillot D., Flores Hernandez D., Sosa Lopez A., Do Chi T. & Ayala Perez L. (2005) Changes in four complementary facets of fish diversity in a tropical coastal lagoon after 18 years: a functional interpretation. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 304: 1-13.
  3. Fernandez C., Pasqualini V., Boudouresque C.F., Johnson M., Ferrat L., Caltagirone A. & Mouillot D. (2006) Effect of an exceptional rainfall event on the sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) stock and seagrass distribution in a Mediterranean coastal lagoon. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 68: 259-270.
  4. Mouillot D., Spatharis S., Reizopoulou S., Laugier T., Sabetta L., Basset A. & Do Chi T. (2006) Alternatives to taxonomic-based approaches to assess changes in transitional water communities. Aquatic Conservation. 16: 469-482.
  5. Mouillot D., Dumay O. & Tomasini J.A. (2007) Limiting similarity, niche filtering and functional diversity in brackish lagoon fish communities. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 71: 443-456.
  6. Spatharis S., Tsirtsis G., Danielidis D., Do Chi T. & Mouillot D. (2007) Effects of pulsed nutrient supply on phytoplankton assemblage structure and blooms in an enclosed coastal area. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 73: 807-815.
  7. Mouillot D. (2007) Niche-assembly vs. dispersal-assembly rules in coastal fish metacommunities: implications for a biodiversity management in brackish lagoons. Journal of Applied Ecology. 44: 760–767.