News & Events


September 29, 2020


Ambre Ledoux, a masters student at Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris, came to Tucson for an internship in the Spring of 2020. She was co-led by Renee Duckworth, Associate Professor at University of Arizona EEB Department and the UMI Director Régis Ferrière. Her research was on the effects of intra-generational and trans-generational plasticities on population dynamics of Western bluebirds (Sialia Mexicana).

Cycles of bluebird species replacement in post-fire habitat.
Cycles of bluebird species replacement in post-fire habitat.

The question of the relative importance of internal versus external factors in the regulation of populations is a lingering debate in ecology. Density-dependent phenotypic plasticity is one of the rare known examples of the combination of these two mechanisms. It can have direct or delayed effects on population dynamics that the study investigated using Western bluebirds as a model species. Indeed these birds manage to thrive through the colonization of ephemeral post-fire patches while displaying both intra-generational and inter-generational plasticity of dispersal and aggressiveness. Thus, Ambre developed an empirically-based mathematical model of Western bluebird local and global population dynamics that takes into account their spatially distributed, ephemeral and successional habitat.


Le Tourneau F.-M., Chercheurs d’or : l’orpaillage clandestine en Guyane Française, CNRS Editions, 2020

Le Tourneau F.-M. et Do Canto O., Amazônias brasileiras, Situações locais e evoluções, vol. 1 Sínteses dos casos de estudo, Belém: NUMA/UFPA, 2019

Le Tourneau F.-M. et Do Canto O.,  Amazônias brasileiras, Situações locais e evoluções, vol. 2 Análises temáticas, Belém: NUMA/UFPA, 2019

Blanchon D., Géopolitique de l’eau : entre conflits et coopérations, Editions le Cavalier bleu, 2019

Blanchon D., Alexandre F., Argounès F., Bénos R., Blot F., Chanteloup L., Chevalier E., Guyot S., Huguet F., Lebearu B., Magrin G., Pelletier P., Redon M., Roussel F., Sierra A., Soto D., Dictionnaire critique de l'anthropocène, CNRS Editions, 2020

F. Poupeau et al. (eds.)? Water conflicts and Hydrocracy. Coalitions, networks, policies? Sao Paulo, IEE/USP, 2019

F. Poupeau et al.,The Field of Water Policy. Power and Scarcity in the American West, London, Routledge, 2019


September 28, 2020

Julien Verges, a masters student at Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris, came to Tucson for an internship in the Spring of 2020. He was supervised by the director of the UMI Regis Ferriere. His research was on adaptive dynamics with temporal dependence.

Example of a population's trajectory (first graph) which follows the optimum (green line). The other two graphs respectively represent the population number and the average delay, i.e. the difference between average phenotype and optimum.
Example of a population's trajectory (first graph) which follows the optimum (green line). The other two graphs respectively represent the population number and the average delay, i.e. the difference between average phenotype and optimum.

Adaptive dynamics consists in studying the darwinian evolution of a population where survival and fertility of each individual depends on the state of the rest of the population. In the most simple cases (Dieckmann model without branching), the population's phenotype converges to a point that maximizes their selective value. Let's add a temporal dependence on that point: by following the optimum we can observe a population that is adapting. However, it does not fight indefinitely since after a certain period of time the population will have been delayed and so its numbers will be low and produce too few mutants. However, we can ask ourselves what a population that is "still fighting" would look like. I attempted to formally define this idea using results from the existence of quasi-stationary distributions of absorbing Markov chains. The problem is that here "infinity is an absorbing point".


September 17, 2020

Théophile Moreal de Brevans, a masters student at INSA in Lyon France, came to Tucson for an internship in the Spring of 2020. He was co-led by Joceline Lega from the University of Arizona and Bernard Cazelles, Sorbonne Université and Ecole Normale Supérieure, both Professors in Mathematics. His research was on modelling the spread of Chikungunya in Puerto Rico.

Weekly incidence of Chikungunya in Puerto Rico between April 2014 and April 2015
Weekly incidence of Chikungunya in Puerto Rico between April 2014 and April 2015

Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are increasingly significant globally, especially in tropical regions, and represent a world-wide public health issue. As a matter of fact, mosquitoes are vectors of several viruses and parasites responsable for diseases such as Malaria (438000 deaths in 2015 according to the WHO, 2020), Zika, dengue, yellow fever and the West Nile fever. Because of this, the mosquito is considered the deadliest animal for humans. The transmission of these diseases is facilitated by the mosquities' extremely wide range of distribution, exposing a large portion of the population to the risk of infection. The Chikungunya is one of them and it re-emerges periodically. In 2014, an epidemic started in the Carribean and spread to all of South America. Understanding the mecanisms of this spread will provide key elements to prevent and contain epidemics.


September 11, 2020


Christian Lorenzi, Professor of  Experimental Psychology & Director of scientific studies at Ecole Normale Supérieure, won a grant, partnering with Jérôme Sueur of the  Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and iGLOBES.


In everyday life, humans not only listen to speech sounds and music, but also engage with many different outdoor environments referred to as “soundscapes”. Natural soundscapes integrate the acoustical patterns produced by biological (insects, birds), geophysical (wind, rain, streams) and anthropophonic (cars, planes) sound sources. Soundscapes not only change as a function of habitat, season and time of day, they are also dramatically changing because of increasing human activities, leading to a significant loss of biodiversity. Therefore, they can be used to assess and monitor key aspects of biodiversity within a given landscape by analyzing soundscape composition. This acoustic assessment of biodiversity has been developed from a purely physical (acoustic) and machine-learning perspective using automatic recorders and computer algorithms, as well as attributing semantic labels to soundscape perception. These approaches, surprisingly, ignore the auditory processes and representations that underlie the human perception of the animal acoustic diversity of natural soundscapes. The goal of this research is to fill in the gap by exploring the auditory cues and mechanisms used by human observers when listening to natural soundscapes and their capacity to monitor biological sounds sources and biodiversity in their close environment through their ears and their auditory brain.

Auditory texture model and statistics.
Auditory texture model and statistics.


August 24, 2020

Following the publication of his new book, Chercheurs d'or: l'orpaillage clandestin en Guyane Française by Editions CNRS, François-Michel Le Tourneau was interviewed by Manon Meyer-Hilfiger of the National Geographic.


Illegal gold miners in French Guiana: a fortune at any cost.

They are called "garimpeiros". Those illegal gold miners, mostly Brazilians, who go to this French territory covered by the Amazon forest and get wages that are 15 times higher than the minimum salary in Brazil... Read the rest of the article (in French)...


June 10, 2020

Water is a resource often compared to oil, and a shortage of water would lead to an imminent "water crisis", permanent, local and global. From this alarming assessment to water wars, as predicted by some, is only a step away. And yet, the role of water in conflicts is debated. Though it exacerbates them, it is rarely the main reason, and can even be a cooperation tool if peace is sought. More than a "water crisis" because of a natural shortage, water geopolitics is governed by failing water policies, and by the hardship of maintaining hydraulic security, with global warming compounding the issue. But there are solutions to a "new water culture", but they still need to be put in place.


May 22, 2020


Biological activity may deeply influence Earth’s climate. But all along its long history, this influence is still misunderstood. An interdisciplinary team, financed by the PSL project “Origins and Conditions for the Emergence of Life” (OCAV) and composed of researchers from the Paris Observatory, the Biology Institute of ENS (Ecole Normale Supérieure) and UMI iGLOBES at the University of Arizona, show that on primitive Earth, the evolution of methane cycling microbes influenced the stability of the climate early on, the glacial cycles, and therefore the planet’s habitability. This new approach, coupling atmospheric composition modelization over a long-term period with the evolution of ecosystems, opens new perspectives in the study of the habitability of planets and their moons, and of terrestrial exoplanets. 


Co-written by Boris Sauterey, Benjamin Charnay, Antonin Affholder, Stéphane Mazevet, and Regis Ferriere, you can read the full article in Nature Communications.


May 8, 2020

David Blanchon, Frédéric Keck, François-Michel Le Tourneau, Stéphane Tonnelat and Adriana Zuniga-Teran published an essay in Metropolitics.


What are “sentinel territories”?  Can we see early warning signs of environmental change? Sentinel territories as a tool to advance environmental policies. Read the article...


May 4, 2020

Kirsten Engel, Professor of Law at the University of Arizona, Esther Loiseleur and Elise Drilhon, both visiting interns at iGLOBES in the summer of 2019 published an article in the Arizona Journal of Environmental Law & Policy, 2020 Spring issue.


The 1980 Groundwater Management Act was created to control the rapidly decreasing groundwater of the state, but despite the extraordinary legislation, it fell short of its intended purpose, creating serious groundwater issue and impacting Arizona's ecosystem.

Forty years later, what should be done? Read the article...


April 14, 2020 12:00-1:30pm (MST)


A talk via zoom by Marie-Noëlle Carré, Project Director in urbanism and planning and Lecturer at the University of Montreal

Studies on “social license to operate” have brought insights on large- scale resource extraction and tensions in remote areas. Framing resource extraction through metropolitan extractive and post- extractive issues also allows to address aspects of governance— otherwise less visible—that could help sustainable decision-making in the extractive sector.

Drawing on the case study of two limestone quarries in Montreal (Quebec, Canada),  this communication will highlight three challenges related to the urban recycling of metropolitan post-extractive areas. Resource extraction impacts will be unfolded through the notion of “technical lands” (Galison, 2017)—the meeting points of contested relations between history, knowledge, material practices, and environmental change. Resistances to change will then be addressed through the “narratives of revitalization” (Baker 2014) brought forth by stakeholders. Conflict resolution will finally be framed through the notion of “critical landscape” (Scott and Swenson, 2015). 


April 1, 2020

François-Michel Le Tourneau, iGLOBES Deputy Director and CNRS Senior Researcher, interviewed Kirsten Engel, also a Member of Arizona House of Representatives, on "Water crisis, policy making and the role of academia".


François-Michel: Could you describe the situation of water in your state, Arizona?

Kirsten: This region is a desert, a very fragile desert and so the amount of water that's here is not sufficient to support a lot of the demands that we have for water. An enormous demand comes from agriculture but also from new housing development. We have a state which is a desert that has some native riparian surface waters, but at this point it is a very managed system where we are bringing in water from the Colorado River to supplement the use of groundwater. We are moving around water at a great expense and through a very complex matrix of laws and regulations, and through incentive programs to try to distribute both the water that is here naturally as well as water that we bring in from the Colorado river so as to supply the growth that you're seeing in this state. Read the full interview.


March 17, 2020


Hard decisions had to be made because of the coronavirus. Visiting scholars shortcut their stay to head back home during these trying times. Wishing you a safe trip!


March 6, 2020

iGLOBES is part of Labex DRIIHM, an interdisciplinary research program that studies the interactions between Man and his environment. There are 13 observatories in the world of which Pima County is one. François-Michel Le Tourneau presented the Pima County Observatory's framework, the focal object: the Santa Cruz bassin up to Eloy, the environment: a mining region in an environment that is increasingly urban and the founding event: the dispute over the opening of the Rosemont mine. There are five majour cycles that are impacting the ecosystem of the region: cattle farming, mining operations, irrigated agriculture, protection of landscapes and urban sprawl.

In order to be able to do a comparative study and see the evolution, a cartography of the territory needs to be put in place showing how it is occupied. After several visits to the UMI, Fabrice Dubertret first put together an inventory of the data from 1979 to today, then analyzed it and is now in the process of creating a database. 


François-Michel is the Deputy Director of the UMI, geographer and Senior Researcher with CNRS. His research is focused on the occupation and use of sparsely populated territories. 

Fabrice is a doctoral student in geography whose thesis is on "Making visible the invisible: the making of a world atlas of indigenous territories".


March 3, 2020

(Left to right) Interns Julien Verges, Valentin Carlier, Théophile Moreal de Brevans, Ambre Ledoux and researcher Bernard Cazelles take the tram to downtown Tucson and take in its gorgeous murals. Want to learn more?


February 28, 2020

Sébastien Roux just started a new project on survivalists in France and is now in the US doing a comparative study. Why Tucson? There are 3 reasons: the extreme climate intensifies the need for being prepared for a catastrophy (mistakes are more deadly here), the closeness to the border adds a "need to defend one's land and family" dimension, and there's a longstanding tradition of survivalism in Arizona. Who are they? What is motivating them? How does the current political context influence their thinking?


Sébastien is a social anthropologist, a CNRS researcher based at the University of Toulouse whose primary research interests center on Affects and intimacy, Children policies, Moral anthropology, Governmentality. He is currently in Tucson doing ethnographic research on contemporary utopias (survivalism and preparedness).

French scholars discover a great western tradition: tucson's rodeo

February 23, 2020


In its 95th year, la Fiesta de Los Vaqueros is a quintessential western event: the bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding is impressive, as well as the barrel racing, steer wrestling, tie-down and team roping. 

UMI Deputy director on the radio

February 21, 2020

François-Michel Le Tourneau was interviewed by Patrick Boucheron on the recent forest fires in the Amazon forest, fires started in order to clear land for farming:

"Today we are in a complete dichotomy nature/farming Man/nature. It's either a field or a wild natural forest. And we don't know how to transform the forest to our advantage in such a way that it can be both an ecosystem that operates naturally and also gives us more services, more food, etc." More... (in French)


Patrick Boucheron is a historian and professor at the Collège de France, specializing in medieval history, and has been president of the Scientific Council at the École française de Rome since 2015.

François-Michel Le Tourneau REceives the 2019 Sophie Barluet award

February 19, 2020


François-Michel Le Tourneau, UMI Deputy Directeur, receives the 2019 Sophie Barluet award for his book L’Amazonie. Histoire, géographie, environnement. Created in 2010, this award is given to publications that show excellence and innovation in the field of Social and Human Sciences.


The ceremony will take place today from 6:15 to 9:30pm at the Centre National du Livre (CNL): Hôtel d’Avejan, 53, rue de Verneuil in Paris and will be followed by a debate on "The Amazon, myths and reality". 

brown bag discussion 2: use of wavelets in time series

February 14, 2020

Bernard Cazelles presented  his research on how to take into account non-stationarity and transient dynamics when analyzing ecological time series: using wavelets. Wavelet analysis decomposes the variance of the time series both in the frequency domain and in the time domain. This makes it possible to follow the temporal evolution of the different periodic components of the time series.


Bernard is a Professor in Ecology-Evolutionary Mathematics at Sorbonne University and Ecole Normale Supérieure, currently doing research in Tucson. He is mainly interested in explaining the complex patterns of populations observed in nature with 2 main directions being explored: theoretical works around the interactions between stochasticity and non-linearity and the effects of climatic oscillations and climatic changes on population dynamics mainly in epidemiology and fisheries. His main contribution has been the introduction of wavelet analysis in the study of discontinuous effects of climatic forcing on population dynamics.

brown bag discussion 1: sentinel territories

February 7, 2020

David Blanchon presented "Tipping point and sentinels: monitoring, interpreting and managing environmental changes in southern Arizona". He explained using the new concept of sentinel territories to look at environmental changes. What is a sentinel? What is a tipping point? How can linking the two help anticipate critical transitions?


David is a professor of geography at the University of Paris Nanterre and currently a senior research fellow at iGLOBES for several years. His work has focused on water management in arid and semi-arid areas, especially in South Africa, where he did his PhD on interbasin transfers. He has led two international research projects in Khartoum, Sudan, on the transformation of an urban waterscape (2008–2012), and in Kenya on water-land nexus (2013–2016). He is currently working on “Sentinel territories”.

2020-2021 pima county observatory Grant winners

*David Blanchon, Tipping point and sentinels : monitoring, interpreting and managing environmental changes in southern Arizona

*Larry Fisher, Building capacity to assess watershed health, water quality, and the anticipated impacts of mining in Southern Arizona

*Brigitte Juanals, Communication and environmental issues surrounding the Rosemont mine project (Pima County, Arizona, Southwest United States)

*Luis Novo, Distribution and accumulation of metals in soil and vegetation surrounding a molybdenum roasting facility at the Sierrita mine, Pima County

*Franck Poupeau, Cowboy ecology revisited

*Anne Sourdril, SONATAS (Listening to the SOunds of NATure to undersTAnd global environmental changeS) 

DELTAS in crisis : dams, drying rivers and lost soil fertility for tens of millions

January 31, 2020 12-1:30pm, Marshall Building room 531

While deltas encroached over the sea until the early 20th century, they are presently retreating, experiencing loss of fertility, decreasing food and fish production and increased flooding, while they are facing sea level rise. The future of deltas is alarming and millions of people are at risk because of unanticipated impacts of human actions. 

While soil erosion and downstream sediment deposition in river channels and floodplains have been major threats in the past centuries in the regions of the globe experiencing intensive land use and climatic crises, the 20th century displays a completely different picture in an increasing number of watersheds. Sediment trapping by dams (and the success of erosion control) has deeply changed sediment budgets and sediment transit at the world scale.  

The measures to be implemented at the delta scale, and solidarity at the watershed scale, are of prime importance in the perspective of the worst emerging regional crisis on the globe. Climate change must not be an excuse to get rid of human direct responsibility in river management. 


Jean-Paul Bravard is professor of geography emeritus at the University of Lyon. A specialist in environmental geography, he focused his research on rivers, impacts of dams, sediment and geoarchaeology of alluvial plains.

VISIT OF CNRS' social sciences & humanities INTERNATIONAl program director

January 26-31, 2020


This past week Sylvie Démurger, CNRS' Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities International Program Director and researcher in the field of economy, participated in the UMI-Udall workshop, visited Biosphere 2 and met with UA professors and strategic partners to understand the role the UMI iGlobes plays in developing UA-France research opportunities.


On Thursday, François-Michel Le Tourneau took her, along with Jean-Paul Bravard, on a field trip south of Tucson, showing them particular points of interest of the region: the future site of the Rosemont mine in the Santa Rita mountains, the mining projets in the Patagonia region, the San Raphael Valley, the Santa Cruz river, the border wall in Lochiel and Nogales and the Tumacacori National Historical Park.


January 29, 2020

Several workshop participants went to the Asarco Discovery Center to visit the copper mine which is found in Sahuarita. After Chile, Arizona is the second biggest producer of copper. The size of the mine was impressive, as well as this 240-ton haul truck with its 11-foot-diameter tire.

REsource extraction: impacts, resistance and conflict resolution?

January 27-28, 2020, Marshall Building room 531

 iGlobes and the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy are again collaborating to put on an international seminar on resource extraction. Its aim is to provide multiple perspectives on resource extraction, social and environmental impacts, resistance and conflict resolution by encouraging communication and asking key questions: 

What are the drivers of resource extraction and in which geographies and political contexts is it most prevalent? What are the impacts? What forms of resistance emerge? 

For more details...