Kevin Liautaud

Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling
Station d’Ecologie Théorique et Expérimentale du CNRS
09200 Moulis, France

Phone: +33 (0) 5 61 04 03 60

Research interests

A question that has long puzzled ecologists is the degree to which ecological communities are integrated entities rather than loose collections of species or individuals. Gleason and Clements were the first to debate plant community organization, the former arguing for an individualistic vision of these associations – a statistical collection of individuals – whereas Clements considered them as superorganisms. Today, we still lack a solid theory to reconcile these two opposing views of ecological communities. Beyond academic interest, this debate has significant implications for understanding and predicting the communities and ecosystems responses to spatially or temporally environmental changes. These questions are particularly relevant in the context of intense anthropogenic activities and global changes.

My PhD, as part of the BIOSTASES project, aims to develop dynamical models of ecological communities to determine how the pattern and strength of species interactions shape community composition, functioning and stability along spatial and temporal environmental gradients. The goal is to identify under which conditions smooth or abrupt changes in community composition, functioning and stability occur in space and time, considering different types of species interactions (e.g., prey-predator, competitive, mutualistic). We expect that communities showing abrupt changes in space will also show abrupt changes under temporal environmental changes. We will use empirical data obtained from the literature to identify ecosystems showing abrupt changes in space and might thus show the same pattern under future climate changes.

Summary CV

- Dec. 2016 - Dec. 2019: PhD in Theoretical Ecology and modelling at CBTM (CNRS SETE- UMR 5321)."Community stability and turnover in changing environments.” Supervisor: Michel Loreau.
- 2015 - 2016: Master degree in Ecology and Environmental Science (EBEN, UPS-ENSAT). Master Thesis: "Study of phenology-performance relations in a Fagus sylvatica population, using a process-based model”. URFM, INRA Avignon. Supervisors: Sylvie Oddou-Muratorio and Hendrik Davi.
- 2015 (Jun-Aug) and 2016 (Aug): Internships at Alpine Wildlife Research Centre (GPNP, Italy). "Study of zooplankton and benthic communities in artificial and proglacial alpine lakes.” Supervisor: Rocco Tiberti.
- 2013 - 2016: Master degree in Agronomical Sciences. Specialization in environmental science. (Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse, ENSAT).
- 2011 - 2013: Undergraduate studies in Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Geology (BCPST, Toulouse).



  • Liautaud K., van Nes E., Barbier M., Scheffer M. & Loreau M. (2019) — Superorganisms or loose collections of species? A unifying theory of community patterns along environmental gradients. Ecology Letters 22: 1243-1252. Download