ONEMA – Irstea Centre

The quantitative hydro-ecology laboratory provides scientific and technological support to assist in the development of public policies for the sustainable and balanced management of flowing-water ecosystems and, in particular, to implement the European Water Framework Directive. In this regard, the "Water course Hydro-Ecology Study and Research Centre" was established upon ratification of an agreement between ONEMA and Irstea.

The environmental issues include ecological restoration which is defined as the "quality of the structure and function of aquatic ecosystems" and the protection and conservation of un-degraded environments.

Research Agenda

The subject of the research involves metropolitan territory water courses using an approach that is transferable to overseas departments.
The 3 major, co-existing, intertwined aspects of water courses are hydromorphology, chemistry and biology. They characterise the operation of water courses and can be influenced by a variety of anthropic pressures. The scientific laboratory approach is to analyse the interactions between these aspects and to create models to better understand how water courses operate in order to propose effective tools to evaluate ecological conditions, perform diagnostics and implement successful restoration.
The analysis is performed at many levels (from local to regional) in order to incorporate all the parameters that influence water courses as well as to provide recommendations at various levels to assist decision-making activities and ensure proper management.
In order to meet these objectives, the following 3 main steps have been identified:

  • Study the structure and operation of environments as a function of their natural characteristics and anthropic pressures in the context of global changes. One of the major focuses is to increase the knowledge of ecological impacts due to physical and chemical pressures and alterations, based on environmental typology of a natural, physical setting.
  • Create tools and recommendations to assist decision-making and directives, directly useful for people in charge of managing water and aquatic environments. For this purpose, the following 4 types of tools have been visualised:
  1. Reference models which can be used to determine the expected populations and/or other biological characteristics in accordance with the natural environment in question,
  2. Spatial extrapolation models which simulate probable ecological conditions from various pressure indicators,
  3. Diagnostic models which identify the influence of various pressures and can be used to prioritise the causes of alterations at various levels,
  4. Management models that evaluate the effects of various restoration scenarios.

Training and education are also important centre missions. Significant effort is being applied to ensure effective transfer of knowledge, concepts, and methods. This knowledge transfer is accompanied by documentation created for various public sectors and incorporate economic and societal issues in order to ensure proper implementation of the tools. Among other things, it includes the determination of the actions necessary to attain and/or maintain good ecological conditions and to find the most efficient combination thereof.
These research and development tools require data collection and proper management to first build appropriate models. For this reason, on its own and in collaboration with others, the laboratory is developing powerful management, processing and analysis tools for all kinds of spatial data collected from aquatic environment surveillance networks and other public sources.

Projets nationaux


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Laboratory Publications

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Make-up of the team

Yves Souchon
Cemagref Research Director
Laboratory Manager 
Hydro-Ecology, Hydromorphology, Relationship between Anthropic Pressures and Ecological Effects on Mountain-Side Basins CV


  • Nolwenn Bougon
    Onema Environmental Chemistry Research Engineer
  • Mathieu Cassel
    Cemagref Study Engineer, Geomorphology, Geometry and Hydraulic Morphometry of Water Courses
  • Andre Chandesris
    IDAE (Agricultural Environment Division Engineer) Regionalisation, Hydro-Ecoregions, GIS, Hydromorphology CV
  • Martial Ferreol
    Cemagref Study Engineer, Treatment, Analysis, and Database Architecture CV
  • Jean-Rene Malavoi
    Onema Geomorphology Expert, Hydromorphology, Physical Restoration of Water Courses
  • Federica Oraison
    Cemagref Study Engineer, Scientific and Topical Syntheses and Composition
  • Jeremy Piffady
    IPEF – Engineer, Bridges, Water and Forests
  • Yves Souchon
    Cemagref Research Director
    Laboratory Manager
    Hydro-Ecology, Hydromorphology, Relationship Between Anthropic Pressures and Ecological Effects on Mountain-Side Basins CV
  • Thierry Tormos
    Onema Research Engineer– Remote-Detection, GIS, Spatial Modelling
  • Laurent Valette
    Cemagref Study Engineer, GIS, Geomatics and Hydromorphology
  • Kris Van-looy
    Senior Researcher (Cemagref High-Level Acceptance 2010-2012)
  • Bertrand Villeneuve
    Cemagref Study Engineer, Data Processing and Analysis, Model Creation (CV)
  • Marta Prieto-Montes
    Studies Engineer, Macro-Invertebrates.


  • Laurent Moiroud
    Cemagref Technician, Database Manager
  • Souad Sabouni
    Cemagref Technician, Database Manager