Field Trips

Field trips will take place on Friday 2 September 2016.

Departure and arrival at Corum, allée Citadelle (level 0)
Except city tour and botanical garden

You are required to be at the meeting point 15 minutes before departure

Please find below field trips which can be booked during the conference delegation registration process. Field trip fees are in addition to the conference registration fee.

OPTION 1 – Petite Camargue & Wetlands Biodiversity SOLD OUT

Organiser: Paula Diaz (UMR CEFE)
Schedule: 9.15 am – 5.45 pm

The Camargue, and especially the Petite Camargue (Western Camargue), are famous for the diversity of their landscapes and natural habitats, strongly linked to traditional human activities. This diversity is the result of topographical variations and of the specific coastal dynamics in the Rhône delta: Gulf of Lions beaches, vast sedge meadows in the Scamandre, Crey and Charnier ponds, humid meadows in the Vistre’s low-valley, dunes in l’Espiguette, lagoons and their emblematic pink flamingos. A large number of rare plant and animal species are present in these globally protected habitats and are protected by conservation policies.

Lunch will be in the small medieval fortified town of Aigues Mortes followed by the visit of the Aigues-Mortes Salt Marsh, an invaluable wetland heritage, which is the world’s second largest biological asset after the tropical rainforest, and plays a major role in maintaining biodiversity. Salt cultivation at Aigues-Mortes Salt Marsh has enabled the preservation of thousands of hectares of natural land along the Mediterranean coast, maintaining its original ecosystem of exceptional flora and fauna.

Cost: €55 plus 20% VAT = €66

OPTION 2 – Grande Camargue & Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands

Organisers: Thomas Galewski, Anis Guelmani (Tour du Valat)
Provisional schedule: 8.30 am – 5 pm

The Regional Parc of Camargue is a wetland of exceptional importance situated in the Rhône delta – between the two main branches of the river – on the shores of the Mediterranean. It attracts large numbers of nesting and migrating birds such as pink flamingos. Human activities such as the extensive breeding of bulls and horses, fishing, rice growing and salt production are very much in evidence, and they make a major contribution to the preservation of the wetlands and its biodiversity.

The Camargue is home to one of France's 51 Regional Nature Parks, whose role is to act as the guardians of their exceptional heritage, while at the same time reconciling environmental considerations with local development issues. The core responsibilities of the Camargue Regional Nature Park, in practical terms, are:

  • the harmonisation of agricultural and environmental policies, and the control of standards, as regards local produce
  • the protection of nature
  • water management

The visit will be guided and commented by the team of scientists of Tour du Valat, a research centre for the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands and their natural resources.

You will enjoy lunch in a nearby farm, which combines touristic and sustainable agricultural activities, including bull rearing and rice, durum wheat, sunflower…grown partly conventionally and organically. The Estate has formed partnerships with several scientific organisations such as French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), CIRAD. Weather and sampling stations are installed on the estate and several plots are being monitored to experiment with limiting the use of fertilisers and herbicides. This research is helping to maintain a balance in the Camargue’s environment.

You will visit the domain in a little tourist train tour among typical landscapes of the Camargue.

Cost: €55 plus 20% VAT = €66

OPTION 3 – Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert & Mediterranean Forest Experiments SOLD OUT

Organiser: Jean-Marc Limousin (UMR CEFE)
Schedule: 9 am – 5.45 pm

Visit of the Oreme experimental station (CEFE-CNRS) located in the Puéchabon State Forest 35 km North-West of Montpellier. The Puéchabon experimental site is dedicated to studying the ecology of Mediterranean evergreen forests in response to climate change and forest management. When initiated in 1984, the original purpose of the Puéchabon site was the study of forest growth and dynamic after the abandonment of traditional clear-cutting management during the Second World War. With the 1997 Kyoto protocol, a precise carbon accounting in forest ecosystems became a political commitment at the European level, and research questions have evolved toward ecosystem functioning and biogeochemical fluxes. An eddy-correlation flux tower was installed on the site in 1998 and since monitors continuously the carbon, water and energy fluxes between the forest and the atmosphere. Global climate change questions have then arisen and more research has been conducted to study the ecosystem response to climate change, and particularly to increasing drought. In 2003, several manipulative experiments started with the MIND project (Mediterranean INcreasing Drought) financed by the European Union. Rainfall exclusion and thinning were applied to simulate a drier climate and study the effects of increasing drought and management practices on forest functioning. This experiment has been monitored continuously since 2003 and is now among the world’s longest experiment of this type. Rainfall manipulation experiments in Puéchabon culminate in 2007 with the installation of a mobile roof above the forest to study the effects of extreme seasonal drought on tree functioning and on the carbon and water cycle. Puéchabon is one of the referenced sites of the CarboEuroflux network, is part of the French network ORE FORET, of the European infrastructure ICOS and of the global network FLUXNET, it is also supported by the French alliance AllEnvi and the future European infrastructure AnaEE.

To reach the station, you will have to walk around 20 minutes in a path in the "Garrigue", take comfortable walking shoes.

Lunch and a guided tour will take place at Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, a very picturesque mediaeval village built around an old Abbey.

Cost: €55 plus 20% VAT = €66

OPTION 4 – Sète & Thau Lagoon Biodiversity

Organiser: Rutger de Wit (UMR Marbec)
Schedule: 9 am – 6 pm

Visit of the historic building of the Marine Station of Sète (Montpellier University) and the mesocosm facilities of the Medimeer research platform (Mediterranean centre for Marine Ecosystems Experimental Research). This marine station hosts research teams that study the biology and ecology of coastal lagoon environments as well as aquaculture and genetics of marine organisms.

Lunch will be offered in a shellfish farm on the « Etang de Thau », the main French Mediterranean oyster producing area. Thau lagoon and surroundings are home for an important biodiversity, which provides ecosystem services supporting a wide range of economic activities, from tourism and recreational activities to agriculture and fisheries. After lunch, you will visit the farm and learn about oyster farming techniques, from the shore but also among oyster beds with a boat tour on the lagoon.

Cost: €55 plus 20% VAT = €66

OPTION 5 – Pic St Loup & Agroforestry

Organiser: Marie Gosme (UMR System)
Schedule: 9.30 am – 5 pm

Visit of the agroforestry research station at Restinclières, Farm Estate belonging to the Hérault General Council (Prades le Lez, 11 km North of Montpellier) where research on agroforestry has been performed for 20 years. This domain is also home of the Departmental House of the Environment, whose offices are in the château, a Montpellier ‘follies’ style, a castle from the XVIIth century surrounded by 200 ha of fields, orchards, and "garrigue" (Mediterranean scrubland). They meant it to be a showcase of Hérault's environmental diversity and an experimental field for innovative agricultural systems. In collaboration with INRA, trees were planted on more than 40 ha of agricultural fields and vineyards. The first European agroforestry experimental site was born. It now hosts a range of scientific experiments, some of which you'll be able to discover during the 2:30 visit of the Estate.

The estate comprises a total of 50 ha of agroforestry plots and hosts various research teams. Scientific work is mainly carried out in plots combining hybrid walnut trees (grown for wood production) and cereals (durum wheat in rotation with protein peas). The originality of this platform are (1) its duration: long-term studies since the trees were planted in 1995 and (2) the fact that it involves agricultural plots managed according to the farmer’s crop management sequences. Main topics:

  • Studies on competition and facilitation relations for the acquisition of resources (light, water, nitrogen).
  • Advantages of introducing a nitrogen fixing plant in an agroforestry or forestry plot.
  • Root system dynamics within the combination, compared to controls without trees or without crops.
  • Efficiency of agroforestry systems for carbon sequestration.
  • Energy wood growing (very short rotation coppice) in agroforestry.

Lunch and wine tasting will take place in a vineyard among the typical landscape of Mediterranean “garrigues”.

Cost: €55 plus 20% VAT = €66

OPTION 7 – Regional Natural Parc Grands Causses & Agropastoralism

Organiser: Bertrand Schatz (UMR CEFE)
Schedule: 8.30 am – 6 pm

The Grands Causses is a high karst plateau in the southern Massif Central, 70 km North of Montpellier. The “pré-causses”, made up of small scale limestone “plateau” and rolling plains, extends as far as the Causses themselves with several endemic plants and a particular fauna. The landscape is scattered with hedges, woodland and dry stone walls. The uniqueness of the landscape linked to local activity of agropastoralism—shaped by terrain and land use, featuring distinctive architecture—led to the creation of the Great Causses regional natural park and its recognition by UNESCO as a world heritage site for these ‘cultural landscapes’. This land has attracted human activity because of its fertility and it is famous for its production of Roquefort cheese that you will discover in the morning and at lunch. The afternoon will be dedicated to the presentation of agropastoralism activity by a researcher of CEFE research unit (CNRS) near the charming village of La Couvertoirade, created by the Order of the Knights Templars at the beginning of the XII century.

Cost: €55 plus 20% VAT = €66

OPTION 8 – Uzes & Truffle Growing

Frank Richard (UMR CEFE) (MAX 53)
Schedule: 8.15 am – 5.15 pm

Visit of a black truffle (T. melanosporum) plantation, in an important and historical natural area of T. melanosporum production (Uzès area). The visit includes a presentation of the typical Mediterranean vegetation in this area, the so-called “garrigues”, where T. melanosporum naturally establishes. The truffle-grower will present his unique arboretum and the adapted practices to obtain a production in planted truffle grounds, and reveal some of the secrets of T. melanosporum proto-domestication process! During the visit, the ecology of the fungus will be explained, and placed in the current context of agropastoral decline in this part of the Mediterranean basin. The typical and spontaneous habitats of T. melanosporum will be shown, in dynamic vegetation dominated by a mosaic of grassland patches, shrubs and scattered producing trees. Lunch will be at the exploitation and will allow you to taste truffles. On the way back, we will have a stop in Uzes, “the first Duchy of France”, a 15 centuries old charming town offering medieval streets and secret gardens, a Ducal castle and Renaissance mansions.

Cost: €55 plus 20% VAT = €66

HALF-DAY MORNING (around 2 hours):

OPTION 10 (Morning) – Montpellier Botanical Garden SOLD OUT

Organiser: André Bervillé (INRA)
Schedule: 10 am – 12 pm
Meeting point: Entrance of the Botanical garden, Boulevard Henri IV

The “Jardin des plantes de Montpellier” (4.5 hectares) is a historical botanical garden, one of the oldest in Europe. It was created by Pierre Richer de Belleval (1564-1632), by order of Henri IV in 1593. At the time it served as a model for designing all the French botanical gardens, including the one in Paris 40 years later. Originally of limited size, the garden occupied around one hectare with a main hill - the "mountain" - plus some space for a plant collection. Over the years, the garden area grew to include a systematic school, an arboretum, and a landscaped park. Now the property of the University of Montpellier, the garden is classified as a Historical Monument and Protected Site. The visit will be commented by a researcher from Montpellier University, in charge of the garden.

Cost: €8 plus 20% VAT = €9.60

OPTION 11 (Morning) – Montpellier City Tour

Schedule: 10 am – 12 pm
Meeting point: Tourist office, Place de la Comédie

Pedestrian visit of Montpellier historical center, from the Place de la Comédie to the Place de la Canourgue or the Place du Peyrou, wander through the labyrinth of medieval alleyways and discover a city that takes you back through time. Follow the ancient footsteps of Saint Jacques de Compostelle pilgrims and discover the façades of private 17th and 18th century mansions, including a glimpse behind one of their doors. Stop at the places where famous people like Saint Roch, Rabelais and Jacques Coeur stayed. This English guided tour will be organized with Montpellier Tourist Office. 

Cost: €8 plus 20% VAT = €9.60

Meeting Points

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Register Now Speakers
Hosted by
  • INRA
  • IRD
Organised by
Supported by
  • Agropolis Foundation
  • CeMEB
  • Cirad
  • EcoServ
  • University of Montpellier
  • National Science Foundation
In association with
  • AEES
  • British Ecological Society
  • esa
  • Gaie
  • IEES
  • IEES
  • SER
  • sfe
Supporting Publications

  • AnaEE
  • Belmont Forum
  • CABI
  • CAIS
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Emergy Society
  • INRA
  • IRD
  • Peerage of Science
  • SFE
  • Royal Society
Nature Ecology & Evolution