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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Who are we?

In the challenging contexts of climate change and increased pressure concerning agricultural and forest multifunctionality, the LERFoB laboratory does research on the ecological dynamics of forest resources. Disciplines addressed include the ecology of species and plant communities, the modelling and simulation of forest stand growth and yield, wood biomechanics, plant architecture and statistical analysis. The research work is mainly oriented towards public decision making, and the management of resources and of natural or cultivated areas, and this in connection with the mission of higher education in forestry, forest engineering and management, with high emphasis on R&D. However, we attach importance to the maintenance of our capacity to work on risky and completely innovative subjects, and to the communication of our results to a broad scientific community beyond the forest science community. Our research is based on observations of natural systems gathered in large databases, growth and yield experiments, and on characterization of wood, in particular by X-ray tomography.

bandeau photos page d'accueil

©photo LERFoB

Between 2007 and 2011 we published 134 articles in international referenced journals (see publications). Our major scientific findings are related to i) the observation of the environment driven changes on the distribution of usual plant species and communities and tree species productivity, in French forests, ii) the strong effect of tree size and social status on radial growth response to climate factors, across species and time scales, iii) sensitivity of species occurrence with respect to soil acidity and canopy opening, and the key role of the pre-existing shade-tolerant species, in the regeneration of mixed forests following disturbance , iv) the role of biotic and abiotic factors on mortality , v) the biomechanical strategies of tree species in connection with the processes of growth and acclimation of wood properties, vi) the use of 3D tomography for understanding tree branch development, and in particular of epicormic shoot formation as a proxy for wood quality . 

Our research strategy involves a partnership with the R&D of the professional actors. We coproduced decision-support tools, including a carbon-assessment model of forest management alternatives, a growth simulator for Fir stands allowing a revision of the forestry standards, a classification of French forest habitats, a map of the bioindicated soil pH of the French forests, silvicultural trials to support experiment and demonstration, e.g. on methods of control for the rival vegetation... 

Our research project for 2013-17 is composed of three topics structured according to the scales addressed: 

  • “observing, modelling, predicting plant species distribution and tree species growth at large spatial and temporal scales”,
  • “dynamics of complex silvicultural systems, modelled at different spatial scales”
  • “function and quality of wood: understanding the plasticity of wood properties within trees and its impact on the utilisation of wood as a material”.


Each topic includes an engineering part associated to more academic work. To meet the challenge of adapting silvicultural systems to environmental changes, the different scales have to be linked, and the different approaches to be joined. Transversal scientific discussions and actions will stimulate the consideration of links between topics, including a pilot action entitled “growing in the wind” or “how are forest trees, stands and territories affected by chronic or extreme winds?”.