PhD candidate – Université de Montpellier



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PHD project: What are the drivers of European otter recolonization in France? Making the best of non-invasive sampling with statistical ecology.


Supervisors: Olivier Gimenez (CEFE-CNRS), Sébastien Devillard (LBBE)



Project outline

The aim of my PhD is to study the recolonization of the European otter (Lutra lutra), which has been taking place in France for over a decade. My research mostly focuses on the spatial dimension of recolonization with three main objectives.

First, I am building distribution models that integrate both protocol-based data from a national monitoring plan and opportunistic data to map the species’ range expansion. I will then investigate how this expansion is favoured or hindered by habitat characteristics and landscape connectivity.

In the same time, I am studying how to include alternative sampling strategies like environment DNA in the monitoring plan for this species, using a case study in several catchments near Montpellier.

Finally, using sequencing data from scats collected in several areas, I am using capture-recapture methods to compare the socio-spatial organization of otters – home range size, sex-ratio, individual turnover – in their core range and in the colonisation front.



  • AMÉLINEAU, Françoise, TARROUX, Arnaud, LACOMBE, Simon, et al. Multi‐colony tracking of two pelagic seabirds with contrasting flight capability illustrates how windscapes shape migratory movements at an ocean‐basin scale. Ecography, 2023, p. e06496.
  • LACOMBE, Simon, IMS, Rolf, YOCCOZ, Nigel, et al.Effects of resource availability and interspecific interactions on Arctic and red foxes' winter use of ungulate carrion in the Fennoscandian low-Arctic tundra. In preprint.