LESSEM - Mountain Ecosystems and Societies Laboratory

Département :
Centre :

Raising awareness of environmental problems and the impossibility of separating their ecological, economic and social behavior aspects has led to changes in production methods and the circulation of knowledge. As part of this scientific and operational context, LESSEM (Mountain Ecosystem and Society Laboratory) has studied the dynamics of socio-ecosystems in mountain regions, aiming to achieve a balance between expanding subject areas (for ecology: functional ecology, community ecology, restoration ecology; spatial modeling; for social sciences and humanities: sociology, agronomy, development, economics) and developing interdisciplinary research, between thematic contributions and methodological perspectives.


A result of the merger of two units, one focusing on ecology and the other on humanities and social sciences, LESSEM :

  1. carries out research into the interface between societies and ecosystems,
  2. analyzes the various components of socio-ecosystems with varied complementary disciplinary approaches,
  3. contributes to finding answers to a range of environmental challenges (biodiversity erosion, adjustment to global change, regional sustainable development),
  4. covers the whole spectrum from academic work to decision-making support, with particular focus on specific areas (nature management and conservation organizations, periurban and/or tourist areas). LESSEM's research focuses on mountain regions, from natural spaces with little human impact to large towns and periurban areas.

To meet its scientific and methodological challenges, the laboratory is organized into three closely linked research teams.

LESSEM participates in and helps to run the Zone Atelier Alpes (ZAA), Federation of Research in Ecology and Environment (FREE Alpes), the Grenoble-Alpes site and both ITEM and OSUG@2020 Labex. Its research topics are also linked to pan-European issues as part of the Alpine Convention and Alpine macro-region strategy.



Transverse Leadership - Placing knowledge at the center of the decision-making process and actions 


What impact will the research have? What are the interfaces that will facilitate the transfer of research results to decision-makers and managers? Where is knowledge in of the decision-making process and in the actions?

Given its wide range of practices, the interdisciplinary research unit LESSEM has decided to develop a specific mechanism to help unit researchers improve their visibility within the knowledge transfer and decision making support process. This mechanism should encourage researchers to review their research practices in conjunction with the anticipated action, therefore making their interactions with managers and decision makers more efficient.


Using meetings and workshops, the initial aim is to create an overview of current methods used by the unit's researchers along with a summary of existing sources relating to types of stakeholders, types of knowledge produced by the research and types of interface between research, management and public policies.

Anticipated output

The unit expects to:

  • produce a summary document to help researchers position themselves on the research-decision interface
  • offer to implement an adaptive management process for research practices for the unit by providing reflective support for humanities and social science researchers
  • facilitate the emergence of collective publications on the issue of interfaces and transfers.

Project leaders: Arnaud COSSON and Thomas CORDONNIER


Experimental sites

Ongoing and recent PhDs

Consult the "Accreditation to supervise research and doctoral and postdoctoral dissertations” page of the Irstea Grenoble Center



Socioeconomic and Technical


  • Networks: PEER, ISCAR, AlterNet
  • WSL (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research), BFW (Austrian Research Center for Forests), (LandCare Research, New Zealand)
  • universities, EPFL, ETHZ, HEPIA




Regional or local