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Accueil > Pages personnelles > Cecile Albert

Cecile Albert

Chargée de Recherche (CNRS)

Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie Marine et Continentale (IMBE)
Aix-Marseille Université, UMR CNRS 7263 / IRD 237
Bâtiment Villemin, Europole de l’Arbois - BP 80
F-13545 Aix-en-Provence cedex 04, France
Tel. : [+33]-4-42-90-84-54, e-mail : cecile.albert -at-



I am a researcher working at the interface between plant functional ecology, landscape ecology, biogeography and ecological modelling.

My research aims at linking existing knowledge in these complementary fields in order to understand how biodiversity and ecosystem services could change under global change pressure.

Searching for an internship or a PhD project ? Do not hesitate to email me directly.

Thématiques de recherche

Modeling the impact of climate and land use change in a fragmented landscape

Anthropogenic land use change, caused by increasing needs for energy and resources, is driving dramatic changes in biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and consequently ecosystem services, such as water quality or crop pollination. New quantitative tools are needed to refine our understanding and projections of these processes into the coming century. My current research aims at developing such a tool by adapting and coupling BIOMOVE (Midgley et al. 2010), an existing landscape modelling shell, to North America cold temperate forests in order to simulate landscape and biodiversity dynamics in the Monteregie (a case study region in south west Quebec), a biodiversity-rich area with a highly fragmented landscape.
More info can be found on this project here.

Intraspecific trait variability

Intraspecific functional variability is a highly timely issue in functional ecology. Deciding whether it has to be accounted for in trait-based studies is an open debate. While analysing the trait dataset I collected on alpine plants, I found strong intraspecific trait variability (ITV). This variability was lower than the interspecific one, but not negligible, and resulted partly from environmental effects and could be explained by species distribution models ; ITV also strongly altered the calculation of functional diversity indices. From my results that are published in Biology Letters, Journal of Ecology, Functional Ecology, Oikos and PPEES. I conclude that ITV should be considered more often to strengthen current trait-based approaches.

Development of a modelling shell

BIOMOVE is a landscape modelling shell that simulates, in a spatially and temporally explicit frame, plant species’ geographic range shifts in response to climate, habitat structure and disturbance, at annual time steps. How to couple models (hybridize) for more accurate assessments of vegetation dynamics (species’ ranges) occupied a large part of my past research (Albert et al. 2008a, Thuiller et al. 2008, Midgley et al. 2010, Gallien et al. 2010). The development of such hybrid models is crucial towards the development of biodiversity scenarios in the context of global changes as they provide outstanding tools to overcome past limitations of predictive models (e.g. species distribution models).

Sampling in Ecology

Sampling is a key issue in ecology. Using virtual simulations (collaboration with N.G. Yoccoz), I’ve demonstrated the inefficiency of common sampling designs (e.g. random) to estimate models or complex parameters that are common in ecology (e.g. response curve estimation). I’ve also revealed the importance of selecting appropriate sampling space (e.g. geographic vs. climatic space) and sampling design, and the value of using prior knowledge of the study system (e.g. response-surface methodology) to reveal underlying ecological patterns. These results are published in a special issue of Ecography ; subsequently I was invited to develop these ideas in a book chapter about sampling in landscape genomics. I believe that these findings are crucial for the establishment of strong sampling in ecology and for the development of new theoretical tools aimed towards finer description of ecological patterns.

Vertical Ecology

In collaboration with Patrick Saccone, Sébastien Ibanez, Sébastien Lavergne, Julien Roy, Hanna Secher-Fromell, Roberto Geremia, Jean-Christophe Clément & the Parc National des Ecrins.

High altitude (> 3000 cliffs shelter specific biotic communities that are organized around cushion plants (key-stone species such as Androsace helvetica) and include plant, insect and micro-organisms species. These communities established in climatically extreme habitats (broad temperature range, high levels of solar radiation, violent winds…) are characterized by fragmented populations (only on high summits) and are self-sustained ecosystems (the soil on which they grow essentially comes from their own biomass decomposition). The Vertical Ecology project aims at better understanding the functioning of this interesting system. Our research is organized around two main questions : (1) What is the colonization history of high altitude populations of cushion plants in the Alps since the last glaciation ? (2) What is the consequence of the genetic differentiation between populations on cushion ecosystem functioning (associated biodiversity & biochemical cycles) ?

See the TV reportage here
and the project’s page on the Parc National des Ecrins’ web site.



[38] Martins KT, Albert CH, Lechowicz MJ & A Gonzalez (submitted) Complementary mass-flowering crops sustain wild bee functional diversity
[37] Schiesari, L. et al. (submitted) The why, when and how of applied metaecology
[36] Ait mouheb H, Albert CH, Prinzig A & Kadik, L (submitted) Ensuring both, Tracking their Optimal Environments and Establishing Elsewhere is Difficult for Steppe Plants - Except if they have Wide Lateral Roots
[35] Doxa A, Albert CH, Leriche A & A Saatkamp (submitted) Prioritizing areas for the conservation of coastal biodiversity under high urbanization pressure
[34] Martín Queller E, Albert CH, Dumas P-J & A Saatkamp (submitted) Islands, mainland and terrestrial fragments : how does isolation shape plant diversity ?
[33] Patrick Bentley L., Adrien Taudière A., Messier J., Albert CH, Paine T., Malhi Y., Baraloto C. & C. Violle (submitted) Functional trait sampling strategies and the detection of community assembly processes in tropical forest trees
[32] Roy J, Lavergne S, Choler P, Bonneville J-M, Boleda M, Rioux D, Albert CH, Ibanez S, Clément J-C, Saccone P, Geremia RA (submitted) Plant genotype drives plant-fungi associations in the alpine cushion plant Silene acaulis


[31] Albert CH, Rayfield B., Dumitru M. & Gonzalez A. (2017) Applying network theory to prioritize multi-species habitat networks that are robust to climate and land-use change, Conservation Biology, read
-> This work has been presented by Andrew Gonzalez to the World Economic Forum
[30] Brudvig LA, Leroux SJ, Albert CH, Bruna EM, Davies KF, Ewers RM, Levey DJ, Pardini R & Resasco J (2017) Evaluating conceptual models of landscape change, Ecography
[29] Leroux SJ, Albert CH, Lafuite A-S, Rayfield B, Wang S, Gravel D (2017) Structural uncertainty in models projecting the consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation on biodiversity, Ecography


[28] Hervé M, Albert CH, Bondeau A (2016) On the importance of accounting for agricultural practices when setting priorities for regional conservation planning, Journal for Nature Conservation, 33, 76-84
[27] Guiller C, Affre L, Albert CH, Tatoni T & Dumas E (2016) Functional connectivity for the persistence of insect-pollinated plants in agricultural field borders, Landscape ecology doi:10.​1007/​s10980-016-0359-9


[26] Mitchell MGE et al. (2015) The Montérégie Connection Project : Linking landscapes, biodiversity, and ecosystem services to improve decision-making, 20 (4), art. 15
[25] Siefert A et al. (2015) A global meta-analysis of the relative extent of intraspecific trait variation in plant communities, Ecology Letters, 18 (12), 1406–1419
[24] Albert CH (2015) Intraspecific trait variability matters, Journal of vegetation science, 26 (1), 7-8


[23] Jung V, Albert CH, Violle V, Kunstler G, Loucougaray G & Spiegelberger T (2014) Intraspecific trait variability mediates the response of subalpine grassland communities to extreme drought events, 102 (1), 45-53, doi : 10.1111/1365-2745.12177/abstract


[22] Cadotte MW*, Albert CH* & Walker SC* (2013) The ecology of differences : Assessing community assembly with trait and evolutionary distances. Ecology Letters, 16 (10), 1234-1244, doi : 10.1111/ele.12161 (*All authors contributed equally to the paper)
[21] Roy J, Albert CH, Ibanez S, Saccone P, Zinger L, Choler P, Clement JC, Lavergne S & Geremia RA (2013) Microbial perspective of ecosystem engineering by an alpine cushion plant. Frontiers in Terrestrial Microbiology, 4 : 64, doi : 10.3389/fmicb.2013.00064
[20] Boucher FC, Thuiller W, Arnoldi C, Albert CH & Lavergne S (2013) Unraveling the architecture of functional variability in wild populations of polygonum viviparum L. Functional Ecology, 27 (2), 382-391, doi : 10.1111/1365-2435.12034


[19] Violle C, Enquist BJ, McGill BJ, Jiang L, Albert CH, Hulshof C, Jung V & Messier J (2012) Viva la variance ! A reply to Nakagawa & Schielzeth. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 27, 475-476
[18] de Bello F, Lavorel S, Lavergne S, Albert CH, Boulangeat I, Mazel F, & Thuiller W (2012) Hierarchical effects of environmental filters on the functional structure of plant communities : a case study in the French Alps Ecography, DOI : 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2012.07438.x
[17] Violle C, Enquist BJ, McGill BJ, Jiang L, Albert CH, Hulshof C, Jung V & Messier J (2012) The return of the variance : intraspecific variability in community ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 27, 244-252
[16] Barbet-Massin M, Jiguet F, Albert CH & Thuiller W (2012) Selecting pseudo-absence for species distribution models : how, where and how many ? Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 3, 327-338
[15] Albert CH, de Bello F, Boulangeat I, Pellet G, Lavorel S & Thuiller W (2012) On the importance of intraspecific variability for the quantification of functional diversity. Oikos, 121, 116-126


[14] Albert CH, Grassein F, Schurr FM, Vieilledent G & Violle C (2011) When and how should intraspecific trait variability be considered in plant ecology ? Perspectives in Plant Ecology and Evolution, 13, 217-225
[13] Engler R, Randin C, Thuiller W, Dullinger S, Zimmermann NE, Araújo MB, Pearman PB, Albert CH, Choler P, de Lamo X, Dirnböck T, Gómez-García D, Grytnes J-A, Heegard E, Høistad F, Le Lay G, Nogues-Bravo D, Normand S, Piédalu C, Puscas M, Sebastià M-T, Stanisci A, Theurillat J-P, Trivedi M, Vittoz P & Guisan A (2011) 21st century Climate change threatens mountain flora unequally across Europe. Global Change Biology, 17, 2330-2341
[12] de Bello F, Lavorel S, Albert CH, Thuiller W, Grigulis K, Dolezal J, Janecek S & Leps J (2011) Quantifying the relevance of intraspecific trait variability for functional diversity. Methods in Ecology ad Evolution, 2, 163-174
[11] Kunstler G, Albert CH, Courbeau B, Lavergne S, Thuiller W, Vielledent G, Zimmermann NE & Coomes D (2011) Effects of competition on tree radial-growth vary in importance but not in intensity along climatic gradients. Journal of Ecology, 99, 301-312


[10] Albert CH, Thuiller W, Yoccoz NG, Douzet R, Aubert S & Lavorel S (2010) A multi-trait approach reveals the structure and the relative importance of intra- versus interspecific variability. Functional Ecology, 24, 1192–1201
[9] Albert CH, Yoccoz NG, Edwards TC, Graham CH, Zimmermann NE & Thuiller W (2010) Sampling in ecology and evolution – Bridging the gap between theory and practice. Ecography, 33, 1028-1037
[8] Albert CH, Thuiller W, Yoccoz NG, Soudan A, Boucher F, Saccone P & Lavorel S (2010) Intraspecific functional variability : extent, structure and sources of variation within an alpine valley. Journal of Ecology, 98, 604–613
[7] Thuiller W*, Albert CH*, Dubuis A, Randin C & Guisan A (2010) Variation in habitat suitability models do not always relate to variation in species’ plant functional traits. Biology Letters, 6 : 120-123. (* The first two authors contributed equally to the paper)
[6] Gallien L*, Münkemüller T*, Albert CH*, Boulangeat I* & Thuiller W* (2010) Predicting potential distributions of invasive species : where to go from here ? Diversity & Distributions, 16, 331-342. (* All authors contributed equally to the paper)
[5] Midgley GF, Davies ID, Albert CH, Altwegg R, Hannah L, Hughes GO, Ries LP & Thuiller W (2010) BioMove – an integrated platform simulating the dynamic response of species to environmental change. Ecography, 33 : 612-616


[4] Albert CH & Thuiller W (2008) Favourability functions versus probability of presence : advantages and misuses. Ecography, 31 : 417-422
[3] Thuiller W, Albert C, Araujo MB, Berry PM, Cabeza M, Guisan A, Hickler T, Midgley G, Paterson J, Shurr FM, Sykes MT & Zimermann NE (2008) Predicting global change impacts on plant species’ distributions : Future challenges. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 9 (3-4):137-152
[2] Gross N, Robson MT, Lavorel S, Albert C, Le Bagousse Pinguet Y & Guillemin R (2008) Plant response traits mediate the effects of subalpine grasslands on soil moisture. New Phytologist, 180 : 652-662, doi : 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2008.02577.x.
[1] Albert CH, Thuiller W, Lavorel S, Davies I & Garbolino E (2008) Land-use change and subalpine tree dynamics : colonization of Larix decidua in French subalpine grasslands. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45 : 659-669, doi : 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01416.x

Book Chapters

[1] Manel S, Albert CH, Yoccoz NG (2012) Sampling in landscape genomics. In François Pompanon and Aurélie Bonin (eds.), Data Production and Analysis in Population Genomics : Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, vol. 888, Springer Science + Business Media New York

Communications orales

Responsabilités administratives et d’enseignement

Research projects

2017-2019 - ArimNet Project DIVERSICROP (participant)
2016-2018 - CESAB working group : WOODIV (participant)
2014-2017 - OT-Med Labex Project : SIMBIOSE (PI)
2011-2014 - Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship - 7th European Community Framework Program : DYVERSE project, no. 272284 (PI)

Students & Post-docs mentoring

2017 - Supervisor of a Msc 2 student, Mehdi Echehab (6 months)
2017 - Supervisor of a Msc 2 student, Margaux Meurant (6 months)
2014-2017 - Co-Supervisor of a PhD student, Mathilde Hervé
2015-2016 - Post-doc, Emi Martin Queller (2 years)
2015-2016 - Post-doc, Aggeliki Doxa (2 years)
2014 - Supervisor of a Msc 2 student, Mathilde Hervé (5 months)
2012 - Supervisor of a Msc 2 student, Louis Meulien (5 months)
2012 - Co-Supervisor of a volunteer undergrad student, Dominique Murray
2010 - Supervisor of a MSc 1 student, Pierre-Alain Jachiet (4 months)
2008 - Supervisor of a MSc 1 student, Florian Boucher (4 months)
2007 - Supervisor of a MSc 1 student, Alex Soudant (4 months)

Associate Editor

Ecology and Evolution

Reviews for international journals

Acta ecologica, Annals of Botany, Biology Letters, Diversity and Distributions, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Ecography, Ecological Modelling, Ecology, Functional Ecology, Global Change Biology, Journal of Ecology, Journal of Vegetation Science, Oecologia, Oikos, Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, Plos One, Science


2015-pres - Administrative council of the Société Française d’Ecologie
2015-2016 - Organizing comittee of Sfécologie 2016
2014-pres - Scientific council of the Conservatoire Botanique de Corse

PhD steering comittees

2017 - Etienne Lalechère. Clermont-Ferrand 2 - (2014-2017)
2017 - Gwendoline Percel. IRSTEA-Nogent-sur-Vernisson (2015-2018)
2016 - Claire Lorel. MNHN - (2015-2018)
2015 - Etienne Lalechère. Clermont-Ferrand 2 - (2014-2017)
2015 - Gwendoline Percel. IRSTEA-Nogent-sur-Vernisson (2015-2018)