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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Axis 2 - Capacities & limits of adaptation of organisms, ecosystems & societies to global change

Evolution has led to a remarkable diversity of species and their adaptation to a vast range of biotic interactions and abiotic environments on Earth.

Evolution, physiological and behavioral plasticity and social flexibility have also permitted the adaptation of species, including humans, to extremely large environmental changes over the history of the Earth. These observations suggest there is a potentially remarkable capacity of SES to adapt to future global change. However, human driven global change is accelerating and involves many factors. Will adaptive mechanisms of organisms, ecosystems and social systems be able to keep pace? Or, will rapid global change outstrip adaptive capacity and in extreme cases push systems beyond tipping points causing large, undesirable and difficult to reverse shifts to ecologically and economically degraded states?In order to address these questions, the BASC project with rely on existing strong disciplinary research on evolution and adaptation of agricultural and natural ecosystems with the ambition of fostering new interdisciplinary research on adaptation to rapid global change and stimulating innovations that facilitate adaptation in the face of global change.

Several lines of investigation will be explored:

  • Developing a hierarchical, integrated approach to understanding and predicting the capacities and limits of adaptation to global change:
    • establish how establish how adaptation processes (phenotypic plasticity and genetic assimilation, heritable modifications in gene function and regulation, epigenetic changes, ecological learning...) can interact to promote rapid adaptive responses to multiple environmental perturbations for wild and agricultural species and how this scales up to population and community levels;
    • explore the interface between the dynamics of ecosystems and societies and mechanisms that constrain or enhance adaptive capacity in the individual components of the system, as well as the interactions between components;
  • Identifying common mechanisms and indicators of adaptive capacity across levels of study: develop modeling tools that are specifically designed to explore adaptive capacity (systems biology models, economic models, models of system viability);
  • Facilitating adaptation through innovation:
    • genetic innovation to guide selection of new varieties of crops that are better adapted to projected climate changes;
    • increased genetic variability in agroecosystems to reinforce adaptive capacity through on-farm conservation, participatory plant breeding, management of genetic diversity at the field and landscape levels; synergies with innovative low input cropping and farming systems based on the principles of agroecology;
    • analysis of the socio-technical transitions related to agroecological innovations to characterise their potential and limits;
    • methods of integrating several spatial scales to improve production / environment trade-offs, as each additional spatial scale can bring new leeway for reconciliation. This upscalling, from field to landscape, requires a dialogue between actors carrying potentially divergent interests.