Photo : Kévin Barré
What brings us together is bat conservation
The Team Chiro is a research group on bat ecology and conservation from the Center for Ecology and Conservation Sciences (UMR 7204 CESCO co-hosted by MNHN, Sorbonne Université, CNRS). Composed of about fifteen people (researchers, lecturer, engineers, project managers, post-doctoral researchers, PhD and master students of CESCO, and associated researchers), we are based in Paris, Concarneau, Toulouse and Montpellier. Since 2006, the research group develops its researches in collaboration with numerous stakeholders.
Our research focuses on ecology (habitat, phenology, migration, species distribution...) and bat conservation (identification and prioritization of issues). More particularly, we study the spatial and temporal dynamics of their populations and communities, in relation with environmental changes related to land use and practices (land use planning: urbanization, transport infrastructures, energies such as wind and solar power, light pollution, quarries, agricultural practices...) and ways to reduce these impacts (protection of areas, management, changes in practices). We like to put these effects into perspective, particularly with a multi-factorial and multi-scale approach, and to produce efficient recommendations that can be easily appropriated by stakeholders. Our research integrates a large part of methodological developments, such as detection, sampling and population monitoring methods, or the development of metrics and indicators (state-response / population-community / taxonomic-functional). In particular, the team has developed a robust expertise in the field of eco-acoustics, as well as tools and approaches that are now used internationally.
Big data at national and international scales
Mainly based on field studies and on the analysis of "big" datasets (including citizen science databases), our research mobilizes the concepts of population, community, landscape and functional ecology (traits), statistical modeling and AI tools. It is developed with a very large network of stakeholders (public, private, institutional, NGOs, consulting firms ...) and in particular the network of French chiropterologists with whom the team collaborates in particular within the framework of the National Action Plan for Bats (led by the FCEN, 2016-2025 - in collaboration with the SFEPM). The team coordinates national and international programs of knowledge and monitoring on the status of bat populations, including (i) the Citizen Science program Vigie-Chiro, which documents since 2006 the trends of bat populations from acoustic recordings, (ii) since 2012 the CACCHI program, based on bat capture, and (iii) since 2021, the international program "Bat migration routes in Europe", which aims to collect acoustic datasets across Europe to characterize migration routes.
Training, data standardisation, collection and analysis
In close relation with these scientific works, our team develops an important activity of management and processing of these data (MNHN institutional databases): the organization of their collection, but also their banking, management, development of tools for identification, processing, visualization, and availability of these data (feeding the French national database on natural heritage). Actively participating in the enrichment of the MNHN's specimen collections and its sound library (sonothèque), the team is also at the initiative of the constitution of a database of bat traits on a European scale (EuroBaTrait). Our team Chiro is logically involved in training, dissemination and transfer of knowledge (tutorials, training, webinars, etc.) to the participants in these programs, including the awarding of skills certificates. Some members of the team are involved in the training of master students (including BEE-ECIRE / MNHN, SU, Saclay, AgroParisTech) in ecology, in eco-acoustics, in the form of lectures or practicals or fieldwork training (acoustic sampling for example). In relation with its solid expertise on data, their analysis, the study of the effects of the various pressures on populations, the team also sets up trainings for decision-makers, representatives of the state services (DREALs, mitigation hierarchy).
In close proximity with the network of stakeholders
Members of the team are also mobilized on expertise missions related to bats (conservation, mitigation hierarchy, land-use planning, especially wind power, public policies for conservation ...) in close collaboration with the Patrinat UAR (MNHN-OFB-CNRS) and with state services (MTES, DREAL), but also with NGOs and private structures. In addition to our interventions, we develop various expert works (reports), produce and implement each year indicators of status and trends of bat populations, at the national level for the National Observatory of Biodiversity (French Ministry of Ecology). We also accompany regional bat groups for the production of trends at the regional level, an essential indicator for a better consideration of these species in public policies.
Because it is convinced of the importance of disseminating knowledge and scientific mediation, the team naturally strives to respond to requests (press, media), to provide methodological advice (students, associations ...), and to publicize the results of its work, via press releases, popularization articles disseminated to a large network of subscribers (list vigie-chiro - 300 subscribers, and forum) and its participation in various meetings (naturalists, schools, general public).