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Toward sustainable fish farming by developing a new prospective integrative approach to design fish community in aquaculture
Deadline for applications
Date of publication


Details on the type of contract
PhD contract
Duration of contract
3 ans

environ 1400 € net mensuel


Name of unit of assignment
USC0340 URAFPA, équipe Domestication en Aquaculture Continentale
Address of unit of assignment
Université de Lorraine, INRA, Campus de la Faculté des Sciences et Technologies, Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy
Website of unit of assignment
Region of assignment


Working environment

UNIT RESEARCH ANIMAL AND FUNCTIONALITY OF ANIMAL PRODUCTS, Team Domestication in inland aquaculture (domestication of new species of fish, development of a generic approach for fish domestication, effects of domestication process on fish). Our research aim to promote a species diversification in aquaculture and a sustainable fish farming through the study of domestication processes. We develop ecological (i.e. functional ecology), phylogeographic, molecular (e.g. transcriptomic and lipid analyses), physiological, and zootechnical studies on all levels of biological organization (i.e. from the cell to the interspecific interactions).



Research activity.


Context. Biodiversity is a key component of ecosystem services. In an agricultural context, it allows enhancing the resilience and the efficiency of production systems. An increasing number of studies in agronomy advocate the use of biodiversity to promote the development of sustainable food production in terrestrial agriculture. In contrast, similar approaches have been far less investigated in the context of aquaculture. Yet, considering species features and interspecific interactions through functional ecological analyses could trigger new agro-ecological approach in fish farming. More specifically, designing well though-out communities of fish species for farming could (i) improve resource management (i.e. complementary utilization of resources between taxa), (ii) increase animal welfare (e.g., decreasing stress and intraspecific aggressiveness), (iii) better environmental footprint of the production system (e.g., improvement of the effluent management), and even (iii) shape beneficial interspecific interactions (e.g., mutualism, commensalism). Ultimately, this could overcome limitation of the current widespread fish monoculture. Nevertheless, theoretical background and relevance for aquaculture still need to be assessed.


Work. This Ph-D thesis aims at developing a theoretical and applied framework to identify/design fish communities that could increase the aquaculture sustainability. The thesis workflow includes three main axes.I. Acquisition of fish biology/ecology dataset. The Ph-D student will participate to a review of domesticated fish biology/ecology (especially their functional traits) used in aquaculture and an overview of fish farming systems (operation, efficiency, robustness, sustainability). She/he will continue to develop the TOFF (i.e. Traits OF Fish) database by integrating new behavioral, ecological, morphological, phonological, and physiological data extracted from the literature (acquisition dataset step).II. Development of a predictive approach for fish community designing. The Ph-D student will develop an integrative statistical framework to predict best fish communities for a particular production context. This will be based on functional ecology analyses (multivariate and clustering approach) of fish species to predict their compatibility and their complementarily in fish farming conditions. This will define prospective fish community potentially efficient in aquaculture.III. Experimental assessment of the predictive approach. The Ph-D student will assess the relevance of prospective fish community by applying, at least one, fish community model in rearing conditions. The performances of this model will be evaluated through a multi-trait approach (e.g. zootechnical, physiological, behavior parameters) at different biological level (i.e. individuals, populations, community, artificial ecosystem) and compared to those of traditional monospecific rearing.

Training and skills required

A candidate with an MSc in a related discipline (e.g., agronomy, functional ecology).


The candidate is expected to search, read and understand scientific literature including in English, to have team skills, a sense of responsibility, and to develop excellent skills in statistical data analysis (especially for ecological datasets), fish biology, and scientific writing in English.


Marielle THOMAS / Thomas LECOCQ
Marielle.thomas@univ-lorraine.fr ; Thomas.lecocq@univ-lorraine.fr