Émilie Arnoux

Phd student (2nd year)

Office number 307, Building "Sciences Gabriel"

Equipe Ecologie Evolutive - Laboratory of Ecology

UMR CNRS 5561 - Biogéosciences

6 boulevard Gabriel

21000 DIJON


+33 (0)3 80 39 91 57

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Phd topic: Conservation of the Forest thrush (Turdus lherminieri), an endemic bird in Lesser Antillean (Guadeloupe, Dominica, Santa-Lucia and Montserrat)


Endemic species are described as having small size of population and small distribution area (Pimm, 1991) that’s why they are more concerned by the risk of locale extinction (Gaston 1994). Small population is more vulnerable to the risk of extinction because of stochastic factors (e.g. demographic, environmental, catastrophic and genetic) (Gaston 1994). This risk is combined with other factors of an anthropic origin. In this context of insularity, the impacts are enhanced by density of humans (Davies et al. 2006), loss or fragmentation of habitats (Beissinger 2000), climate modification (Forester & Machlis 1996), and introduction of species (Fritts & Rodda 1998). These endemic species became species of interest in problematic of conservation.

The Forest Thrush, Cichlherminia lherminieri is endemic to 4 islands of Lesser Antilles: Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Santa Lucia and Dominica. In this specie, four sub-species are describing on each island (Clement & Hathway 2000) following distinct morphological criterions. The population has severely declined since 15 years and the forest thrush is now classified as vulnerable on list of International Union for Conservation of Nature. Recently, the St Lucia subspecies is listed as “Endangered” in the US Federal Register (Agency of Fish and Wildlife service, 2010). Measures of protection were taken for these birds on three islands whereas they are always hunted in Guadeloupe. Then, stakes of conservation are really important for this bird. To conserve populations in danger, many factors must be studied. It seems necessarily to know the biology of species (vital area, alimentation, biometry…), the interaction with their environment (parasitology, competition between invasive species…) and genetic structure.

To manage species in natural population, the knowledge of the population genetic structure of threatened species can contribute substantially towards evaluating population viability (Haig 1998) and identifying appropriate conservation strategies. This information is unavailable for the Forest thrush. Indeed, many studies show that populations having low genetic variability, have a capacity of adaptation reduced facing to environmental modifications and a high risk of extinction (Frankham 2005). Working on variability genetic allows also to identify differentiated population and gene flow (for example migration of birds) (Johnson  et al. 2004). For the Forest thrush, we plan to study the genetic variability between the island (Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Dominica and Santa Lucia) and between areas on each island.

Second, four sub-species are described in literature (Clement & Hathway 2001) corresponding to each islands. This differentiation is based on morphological criteria. Different body sizes reflect trade-offs and selective pressures (e.g., environmental conditions, sexual selection) acting on different populations and between the sexes (Wikelski and Trillmich 1997) that’s why it should be interesting to compare genetic diversity with biometric measures between islands and between locality inside each islands.

Third, populations can be sensible to interactions with their environment as parasites. Parasites can be responsible of demographic decline in endemic species (Kilpatrick 2006) and can have a spatial distribution specific to each habitat (Wood et al. 2007). That’s why, we plan to do a study on different parasites present in blood, in feathers and in faeces.


Mots clés

biodiverity ; conservation ; endemism ;  parasite ; competition ; Turdus lherminieri


- Population genetic

- Spatial analysis: Estimation of vital area with ArcGIS

- Parasitology (Identification and quantification by molecular biology)

- Radio-tracking


Previous researches: Research technician during 3 years

  • Effect of early conditions on antioxidant system and consequences on life-history traits (Zebra finch)
  • Ageing and senescence (Zebra finch)
  •  Resource allocation trade-offs (carotenoids) between secondary sex characteristics and antioxidant system
  • Heritability of antioxidant defenses (Great tit, Blue tit)

diamant_mandarin                                pigeons_au_nid

Student period

Research intership

  • Ecotoxicology : Effects of pollutants on immune response in blackbirds, Turdus merula, Renaud Scheifler, University of Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
  • Conservation : Population fragmentation and impact on individual quality : study on antimicrobial peptides in skin, Jean-Paul Léna & Sandrine Plénet, Université Claude Bernard, Lyon, France
  • Senescence and longevity in albatross, Centre biologique de Chizé.


  • Leclaire S., White J., Arnoux E., Faivre B, Vetter N., Hatch S.A. & E. Danchin. Integument coloration signals reproductive success, heterozygosity and antioxidant levels in chick-rearing black-legged kittiwakes. Naturwissenschaften. (In press)
  • Cote J., Arnoux E., Sorci G. and Faivre B. 2010. Age-dependent allocation of carotenoids to coloration versus antioxidant defences. Journal of Experimental Biology. 213: 271-277
  • Lecomte V., Sorci G., Cornet S., Jaeger A., Faivre B., Arnoux E., Gaillard M., Trouvé C., Besson D., Chastel O., and H. Weimerskirsch. 2010 Patterns of aging in the long-lived wandering albatross. National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS), 107(14):6370-6375
  • Belloni V., Faivre B., Guerreiro R., Arnoux E., Bellenger J. and Sorci G. 2010. Suppressing an Anti-Inflammatory Cytokine Reveals a Strong Age-Dependent Survival Cost in Mice. Plos Biology


  • Arnoux E., Thomas A., Eraud C., Garnier S., Levesque A. And B. Faivre. Morphological differentiation at a small scale in an endangered species: The Forest thrush in a Guadeloupe island. Poster EOU conference Riga 2011.
  • Scheifler R., Fritsch C., Arnoux E., Coeurdassier M., Raoul F., Giraudoux P., Chastel O., Douay F., de Vaufleury A. and Faivre B. Accumulation and effects of Cd, Pb and Zn in blackbirds (Turdus merula) along a heavy metal pollution gradient. Poster SETAC Europe Göteborg 2009.


  • Eraud C., Arnoux E., Gaillard M. and Faivre B. Eye colouration reflects current immune status in feral pigeons, ISBE, Tours, France 2006
  • Arnoux E., Eraud C. and Faivre B. Maternel investment in eggs : Mechanism of compensation of hatching asynchrony in collared doves Streptopelia decaocto, PPD, Lille, France, 2006

Laboratory skills

  • High Performance Liquid Chromatography (carotenoids, pteridins)
  • Spectrophotometry: quantification of total antioxidant capacity, superoxide dismutase, lipid peroxidation, carotenoid, haptoglobin, lysozyme and peptides
  • Microbiology : Quantification of bacterial inhibition by antimicrobial peptides on agarose gel
  • Genetic : Molecular sexing (blood and tissue)
  • Hormone quantification with Radio Immuno Assay

Technics in avian structure and fieldwork

  • Manager
  • Entretien, nourrissage, gestion des stocks, commande
  • Biometric measures on bird
  • Blood sampling
  • Mist-netting
  • Radio-tracking
  • Nests recording (Blue tits and Great tits)


  • Real-time PCR
  • HPLC et UPLC
  • Permission to manipulate animals in laboratory (level 1)
  • Knowledge about chemical risks
  • Permission to use gaz


  • 2004 - 2005 : Msc in Biology and Ecology
  • 2000- 2003 : Licence in cellular biology and physiology
  • 2000 : Bachelor in Sciences
Last update 15 july 2011