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Wildlife and contaminants

To monitor the exposure of wildlife to contaminants, especially chemical contaminants, and the effects thereof.


Anticoagulant rodenticides - AVKs

Treatment plough and fossorial water vole trappingSince the early 1980s anticoagulant treatments have been administered across thousands of hectares in the form of bait to control the detrimental effect of outbreaks of water voles on grasslands. This has led to intoxication of non-target fauna, especially vole predators such as buzzards, foxes, red kites, wild boar, etc. The traceability of these treatments has been ensured by the Regional Federation for Defence Against Pest Organisms and the Regional Office for Food, Agriculture and Forestry since 1991, with support from the Chrono-Environment Research Unit. These data allow comparisons over time and space with series for population dynamics of water voles and their predators collected as part of the Rodents-Predators scheme and the Birds of Prey scheme (see below). For instance, data from this observatory has shown that changes in methods of treatment have had an impact on fox populations in the Doubs (Jacquot et al. 2013).

Where and When
Rodenticides: annually for the Doubs and Jura départements, at commune resolution, since 1991;

See also...

Coordinator: Michael Cœurdassier

Birds of Prey

Backed by the Red Kite National Action Plan and its regional and national partners, a surveillance scheme was set up in 2012 by UMR Chrono-Environment and LPO Franche-Comté to collect information about the exposure of three nesting populations of red kites to chemical contaminants (pesticides, metals, persistent organic pollutants).
The scheme is designed to evaluate whether exposure to these pollutants entails a risk of harmful effects for individuals and populations, to describe patterns of contaminant transfer in foodwebs and their changes over time and space, and possibly to detect the emergence of any environmental contaminant.

The scientists involved in this research participate in the programme «EURAPMON - Research and Monitoring for and with Raptors in Europe».

Where and When
Three sites for nest survey: Sundgau belfortain, Plateau de Besançon and Bassin du Drugeon et Remoray – monitoring of successful breeding, collection of morphometric data, ringing and wing marking of young, blood sampling from chicks.

Study area locations

Coordinator: Michael Cœurdassier

Forest small mammals

Wood mouse leaving a dormitory Since 2013, we have been studying the responses of forest small mammals rodents and shrews) to different anthropogenic disturbances which imply chemical pollution (urbanization, industrial sites, intensive farming). This work aims at characterizing and understanding the effects of various stressors at individual, population and community levels. These stressors are basically chemical contaminants, but we also study their interactions with biological contaminants (pathogens, including some zoonosis agents) and landscape.

The monitoring scheme deals with the characterization of small mammals populations using trapping, the assessment of individual exposure to pollutants (metals, PAHs, pesticides) and pathogens (Borrelia ssp, Anaplasma ssp, …), and the study of animal health state and nutritional state (haematology, plasma biochemistry, enzymology).

The survey has also been used as a platform for the development of non-lethal methods for small mammal studies in ecotoxicology (anaesthesia, blood sampling, measurements of pollutants in blood micro-volumes, capture-mark-recapture, health state diagnose, …)

Where and When
Sites in city (2 in Besançon), forest (2 in Forêt de Chaux), and farmland (6 spread in the départements of Jura, Doubs and Haute-Saône)
Monitoring in spring/summer

Studysite locations

Read more: Non-lethal experiment on « small mammals and contaminants »

Coordinator: Clémentine Fritsch

Urbanisation and tit populations

Since 2011 some 300 nest boxes have been set up in Besançon and the Forest of Chaux to measure the effects of urbanisation and exposure to some pollutants typical of urban environments on the individual performances of great and blue tits (state of health, reproduction). This monitoring is done in cooperation with the Biogeoscience department (University of Burgundy/CNRS).

Where and When
Sites in the Forest of Chaux and Besançon. Monitoring in spring during the breeding season.

Study area locations

Coordinator: Renaud Scheifler


Lesser horshoe bat Since 2010 the exposure of the lesser horseshoe bat to biological contaminants (bacterial and protozoan parasites) and chemical contaminants (metals, pesticides and insecticides) has been measured in relation to the genetic structure of the populations studied,and relationships between biological and chemical exposures.

Where and When
Twenty-six sites (roosts) in Franche-Comté, some of which are within the ZAAJ. Sporadic sampling, annual monitoring of roosts by the Chrono-Environment department and the CPEPESC.

Study area location

Coordinator: Eve Afonso