Régis Ferrière

Professeur ENS

Team « Eco-evolutionary Mathematics »

Pièce 426
Ecole Normale Supérieure
46 rue d’Ulm
75230 Paris Cedex 05, France
Tel: +
ferriere at biologie.ens.fr

Research interests

My research interests develop at the interface of ecology, evolutionary biology, and mathematics. I want to contribute to a better understanding of how ecological and evolutionary processes interact in nature, by means of mathematical modelling and controlled experiments.

Unifying ecology and evolution in a common mathematical framework

Ecological interactions are essential to evolutionary dynamics, as they generate selective pressures on adaptive traits and can influence trait variation and inheritance. Evolutionary theory has long ignored feedbacks between evolutionary and ecological processes. To account for evolution as an ecological process and understand how ecosystem dynamics influence long-term evolution, new mathematical approaches are warranted.

When does evolution optimize? (rarely)

For general ecological scenarios, there is no such thing as ‘absolute fitness’: fitness is determined by traits and ecology; fitness variation drives trait evolution which in return changes the ecology. This feedback loop prevents ‘optimization’ in general. Rather, evolutionary dynamics can undergo reversals, converge to pseudo equilibrium, show intrinsic unpredictability or lead populations to extinction.

How does evolution work in social networks?

Interactions within small groups, from molecules to humans, are key to the origin and evolution of the structures of living systems. A minimal evolutionary model involves individual traits that affect both neighborhood formation and interaction with neighbors. As the traits evolve, social structures emerge and selection on the traits change as a result. This perpetual feedback loop between trait dynamics and social structures can drive the evolutionary rise and fall of cooperation on social graphs.

How organismal ecology scales up to macroevolutionary diversification

Contemporary patterns of community diversity reflects proximate ecological mechanisms of species coexistence and long-term macroevolutionary processes of diversification and extinction. But the two are not independent. Mutualisms epitomize species assemblages with long coevolutionary history. Ecological mechanisms that determine coexistence of competing mutualists have major influences on macroevolutionary dynamics and patterns - the rate, breadth and richness of macroevolutionary diversification.

Ecosystem functioning and rapid evolution in changing environments

Selection takes place in an ecological web, where the adaptation of an organism creates a reciprocal effect on the ecosystem in which it is embedded. This coevolutionary process can affect not only the evolutionary trajectory of the target species but the structure and evolution of all components of the ecosystem - trophic structure, primary productivity, distribution of essential nutrients and information flow. How far do the effects of adaptive evolution in one species ramify through communities and the entire ecological web? How does the web responses feedback onto the adaptive evolution of component species?



Ferrière R, Guionnet A & Kourkova I (2006) Timescale of population rarity and commonness in random environments. Theoretical Population Biology 69: 351-366.

Tully T*, D’Haese CA, Richard M & Ferrière R (2006) Two major evolutionary lineages revealed by molecular phylogeny in the parthenogenic collembolan, Folsomia candida. Pedobiologia 50: 95-104.

Dercole F*, Ferrière R, Gragnani A & Rinaldi S (2006) Coevolution of slow-fast populations : Evolutionary sliding, evolutionary pseudo-equilibria, and complex Red Queen dynamics. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 273: 983-990.

Champagnat N*, Ferrière R & Meleard S (2006) Unifying evolutionary dynamics: from individual stochastic processes to macroscopic models. Theoretical Population Biology 69: 297-321.


Champagnat N*, Ferriere R & Meleard S (2007) Individual-based probabilistic models of adaptive evolution and various scaling approximations. Progress in Probability 59: 75-113.

Ferriere R, Gauduchon M* & Bronstein JL (2007) Evolution and persistence of obligate mutualists and exploiters: competition for partners and evolutionary immunization. Ecology Letters 10: 115-126.

Evans MEK*, Ferriere R, Kane MJ & Venable DL (2007) Bet hedging via seed banking in desert evening primroses (Oenothera, Onagraceae): Demographic evidence from natural populations. American Naturalist 169: 184-194.

Le Galliard JF & Ferriere R (2007) Physical performance and fitness in lizards. Journal of Morphology 268: 1098-1098.


Massot M, Clobert J & Ferriere R (2008) Climate warming, dispersal inhibition, and extinction risk. Global Change Biology 14: 461-469.

Le Galliard JF & Ferriere R (2008) Evolution of maximal endurance capacity: natural and sexual selection across age classes in a lizard. Evolutionary Ecology Research 10: 1-20.

Updated 3 April 2015 by Minus