Marie-Laure Acolas

Researcher on migratory fish populations’ restoration

Domaine de compétence

Research interests

My research activity is mostly focused on i) the migration behavior of anadromous fishes (shads, salmonids, sturgeons) through an individual approach in their natural environment of their movements and their life history traits; ii) the conservation of endangered species through the monitoring of their recovery and a critical evaluation of the restoration practices; iii) the effect of aquaculture practices on the early stage individual performance (survival, growth, behavior) within the frame of stocking program; iv) the influence of environmental factors on fish species life history traits and tactics. To explore these issues, I use a combination of field and laboratory experiments and collaborate with specialists of different field of expertise (modeling, physiology, genetic).

Fields of competence

Conservation Biology, Behavioral Ecology, Aquatic Ecology, Population Biology, Biotelemetry

Specific Skills

Acoustic telemetry and RFID, Experiments in the field and in controlled environment

Fish surgery & animal experimentation habilitation (National Veterinary School, Nantes, France)



Coordination (2013-2015) Teaching UnitConservation and migratory fish” in the Master 2 STEE program “Biodiversity and continental ecosystems” - University of Bordeaux

This teaching unit is held at Irstea for 2 weeks each year; it combines lectures, practical work and site visit. The speakers are researchers and invited members such as managers, association coordinators, and state representatives. Using migratory fish population as case studies, the aims of this teaching unit is to acquire knowledge basis, methods and skills at the interface between research and management expertise to be able to work on natural resources conservation. Since 2016 G. Lassalle and C. Rigaud lead the coordination of this teaching unit.

Lectures (since 2013) “An introduction to conservation biology and migratory fish” and

In situ and ex situ conservation

Training (2013-2015) “Fish sampling: biometry, tagging and telemetry

Post-doctoral fellow

2014-2018: S. Roques “Genetic characterization of the relict population of the European sturgeons Acipenser sturio, parentage methods development

Collaboration with P. Berrebi (population geneticist) ISEM Montpellier and with E. Chancerel, Inra UMR BIOGECO, genomic plateform

Ph.D. Student

Since November 2017: L. Baumann “Comparative ecology of young stages of shads Alosa alosa & Alosa fallax: preferenda, sensitivity to environmental pressures and population restoration”

Co-supervision with A. Bardonnet Inra St Pée sur Nivelle

2013-2017: E. Carrera-Garcia “Dispersal and survival analysis of young of year migratory fish within the frame of stocking program: study case on European sturgeon Acipenser sturio

Co-supervision with E. Rochard Irstea Bordeaux

Master students

J. Vega, 2016. Preliminary study of the Gironde estuary trophic capacity for juvenile European sturgeon Acipenser sturio. Master 2 BEE, Biodiversity, Ecology, Evolution, Lille 1 University.

Co-supervision with G. Lassalle (quantitative ecology), Irstea Bordeaux.

J. Kordek, 2014. Intra-peritoneal tagging effect on survival, growth and behavior of young of year siberian sturgeons Acipenser baeri. Master 2 STEE, Biodiversity and continental ecosystems, Bordeaux University.

C. Dupouts, 2012. Stocking methods for migratory fishes: methods and age at stocking. Master 2 Engeneering in hydrosystems and watersheds management (IMACOF), Tours University.

Undergraduate students

M. Dubernet, 2019. Monitoring development to study estuarine trophic network using stable isotope analysis. License 3 organisms & ecosystems, Bordeaux University.

Co-supervision with L. Carassou (functional ecology), Irstea Bordeaux

M. Boisse, 2015. Web application writing for the sturgeon bycatch database management. Informatics technician, IUT Bordeaux.

Co-supervision with E. Quinton (database engineer), Irstea Bordeaux

A. Gentil, 2015. Survival and growth of European sturgeon young stage function of photoperiod and water quality. Technician training in fisheries and aquaculture. Intechmer, CNAM, Cherboug.

Co-supervision with E. Carrera-Garcia (Ph.d. student), Irtsea Bordeaux.

S. Therre, 2012. Rearing and training methods for sturgeons within the frame of stocking practices.  Master 1 Ethology, Paris 13 University, Irstea report.

S. Therre, 2012. Habitat preferenda and specific training methods for restocking purposes of sturgeons: case study on Acipenser sturio. Master 1 Ethology, Paris 13 University.

N. Delage, 2009. Temperature effect on swimming capacity and metabolism of European sturgeon Acipenser sturio. Master 1 Environmental Sciences, La Rochelle University.

Co-supervision with C. Lefrançois (ecophysiology), La Rochelle University.

E. Rouleau, 2008. Preliminary study on internal tagging effect of siberian sturgeon Acipenser baerii. Master 1 Earth Sciences, environment, ecology, Bordeaux University.

Projets réalisés et en cours


2019-2021 : MOMIE MOvement and MIgration of European sturgeon Acipenser sturio: habitat at sea and spawners returns in rivers (scientific coordination of the project funded by AFB French Agency for Biodiversity)

2019-2021 : Interreg DiadES Assessing and enhancing ecosystem services provided by diadromous fish in a climate change context (coordination by G. Lassalle & P. Lambert, Irstea)

Participation to task 6 Joint methodologies for biological data collection

2017-2020 : SHAD’EAU Shads populations’ viability in the Bay of Biscay (coordination by F. Daverat, Irstea)

Participation to task 2 Young stage ecology, sensitivity to environmental pressure

Since 2011 : Research program on conservation and restoration of the critically endangered European sturgeon Acipenser sturio (coordination by E. Rochard, Irstea)

Scientific coordination of the actions in the natural environment

Research program supporting the French national action plan for A. sturio restoration


2013-2017 : ANR CESA SturTOP Vulnerability and adaptability of the last population of the European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) to environmental stress factors: temperature, oxygen, pollutants (Coordination J. Cachot, UMR EPOC CNRS-Université Bordeaux & E. Rochard, Irstea UR EABX)

Co-supervision of task 4 with B. Davail (UMR EPOC): Assess the relationships between habitat quality, contamination level, and state of health of the sturgeon juveniles

2011-2015 : ADAPTEST ADAPTability TESTs development for young of year European sturgeon produced in captivity and assessment of rearing environment influences on juveniles’ fitness related traits within the frame of stocking programs  (Scientific coordination of the project funded by ONEMA (now AFB))

Expériences professionnelles

Since 2012 : Researcher on migratory fish populations restoration at Irstea EABX unit

2008-2011 : Research engineer at Irstea EABX “Migration patterns of stocked European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) in the wild”

2004-2007 : Ph.D. student at INRA/Agrocampus-Ouest Ecology and Ecosystem Health research unit, France. Thesis title: “Life history tactics in brown trout (Salmo trutta): environmental and maternal determinants of juvenile migration”

2003-2004 : Research assistant at the Winnipeg Freshwater Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Experimental Lakes Area, Canada. “Impact of aquaculture cages (Oncorhynchus mykiss) on wild lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) behavior and habitat selection”


2008: Ph.D. in “Physiology - Biological Sciences - Populations - Interactions” University of Caen, France

2002: Master in Environmental Science and Biodiversity, specialization in littoral and marine resources, University of Corsica, Corte, France

1998: DipHE Sea and littoral technician, management of littoral environment, University of the Littoral Opal coast, Calais, France


Peer review articles

Roques S., Chancerel E., Boury C., Maud P., Acolas M.L. (2019) From microsatellites to single nucleotide polymorphisms for the genetic monitoring of a critically endangered sturgeon. Ecology and Evolution, in press.

Acolas M.L., Davail B., Gonzalez P., Jean S., Clérandeau C., Morin B., Gourves P.Y., Daffe G., Labadie P., Perrault A., Lauzent M., Pierre M., Le Barh R., Baudrimont M., Peluhet L., Le Menach K., Budzinski H., Rochard E., Cachot J. (2019) Health indicators and contaminant levels of a critically endangered species in the Gironde estuary, the European sturgeon. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, in press.

Lambert P., Lassalle G., Acolas M.L., Bau F., Castelnaud G., Daverat F., Jatteau P., Rigaud C., Rochard E., Roqueplo C., De Jouvenel F. (2019) A foresight analysis in fisheries science: The case study of migratory fish research. Futures 111: 90‑103.

Brevé N.W.P., Vis H., Houben B., Breukelaar A., Acolas M.L. (2019) Outmigration Pathways of Stocked Juvenile European Sturgeon (Acipenser Sturio L., 1758) in the Lower Rhine River, as Revealed by Telemetry. Journal of Applied Ichthyology 35, 1: 61‑68.

Roques S., Berrebi P., Rochard E., Acolas M.L. (2018) Genetic monitoring for the successful re-stocking of a critically endangered diadromous fish with low diversity. Biological Conservation, 221, 91-102.

Acolas M.L., Le Pichon C., Rochard E. (2017) Spring habitat use by stocked one year old European sturgeon Acipenser sturio in the freshwater-oligohaline area of the Gironde estuary. Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Science, vol. 196, p. 58 – 69.

Carrera-Garcia E., Rochard E., Acolas M.L.  (2017) Effects of rearing practice on post-release young-of-the-year behavior: Acipenser sturio early life in freshwater. Endangered Species Research, vol. 34, p. 269 – 281.

Carrera-Garcia E., Kordek J., Gesset C., Jacobs L., Acolas M.L. (2017) Tracking juvenile sturgeon in the wild: Miniature tag effects assessment in a laboratory study on Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii). Fisheries Research, vol. 186, p. 337 – 344.

Roques S., Berrebi P., Chèvre P., Rochard E., Acolas M.L. (2016) Parentage assignment in the critically endangered European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) based on a novel microsatellite multiplex assay: a valuable resource for restocking, monitoring and conservation programs. Conservation Genetics Resources, vol. 8, n° 3, p. 313 – 322.

Carrera-Garcia E., Rochard E., Acolas, M.L. (2016) European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio L.) young of the year performance in different rearing environments: study within a stocking program. Environmental Biology of Fishes, vol. 99, n° 11, p. 887 – 901.

Jaric I., Gessner J., Acolas M.L., Lambert P. & Rochard E. (2014) Modelling attempts utilized in sturgeon research: a review of the state-of-the art. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 30, 1379-1386.

Brevé N.W.P., Vis H., Houben B., de Laak G.A.J., Breukelaar A.W., Acolas M.L., de Bruijn Q.A.A. & Spierts I. (2014) Exploring the possibilities of seaward migrating juvenile European sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., in the Dutch part of the River Rhine. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 18, 131-143.

Acolas M.L., Rochard E., Le Pichon C. & Rouleau E. (2012) Downstream migration patterns of one-year-old hatchery-reared European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 430–431, 68-77.

Acolas M.L., J. Labonne, J. Baglinière & J. Roussel (2012) The role of body size versus growth on the decision to migrate: a case study with Salmo trutta. Naturwissenschaften, 99, 11-21.

Blanchfield P.J., Tate L.S., Plumb J.M., Acolas M.L. & Beaty K.G. (2009) Seasonal habitat selection by lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in a small Canadian shield lake: constraints imposed by winter conditions. Aquatic Ecology, 43, 777-787.

Acolas M.L., Roussel J.M. & Bagliniere J.L. (2008) Linking migratory patterns and diet to reproductive traits in female brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) by means of stable isotope analysis on ova. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, 17, 382-393.

Wilson M., Acolas M.L., Bégout M.L., Madsen P.T. & Wahlberg M. (2008) Allis shad (Alosa alosa) exhibit an intensity-graded behavioral response when exposed to ultrasound. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Express Letters, 124 243-247.

Acolas M.L., Roussel J.M., Lebel J.M. & Baglinière J.L. (2007) Laboratory experiment on survival, growth and tag retention following PIT injection into the body cavity of juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta). Fisheries Research, 86, 280-284.

Jadot C., Donnay A., Acolas M.L., Cornet Y. & Begout Anras M.L. (2006) Activity patterns, home-range size, and habitat utilization of Sarpa salpa (Teleostei: Sparidae) in the Mediterranean Sea. ICES J. Mar. Sci., 63, 128-139.

Acolas M.L., Veron V., Jourdan H., Begout M.L., Sabatie M.R. & Bagliniere J.L. (2006) Upstream migration and reproductive patterns of a population of allis shad in a small river (L'Aulne, Brittany, France). ICES J. Mar. Sci., 63, 476-484.

Acolas M.L., Begout Anras M.L., Veron V., Jourdan H., Sabatie M.R. & Bagliniere J.L. (2004) An assessment of the upstream migration and reproductive behaviour of allis shad (Alosa alosa L.) using acoustic tracking. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 61, 1291-1304.

Book chapters

Acolas M.L., Gardes C., Adam G., Rochard E. (2018) Synthesis of Escapements of Farmed Siberian Sturgeon in French Catchments: Some ExtremeEvents and a Lot of Punctual Incidents. In The Sibreian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii, Brandt, 1869), eds. Williot P., Nonnotte G., Chebanov M. Volume 2-Farming. Springer.

Acolas, M.L. & Lambert P. (2015) Chapter 5 Life histories of anadromous fishes. In Fish migration, eds. Morais P. & Daverat F., p 55-77. CRC press.

Begout, M.L., Bau F., Acou A., Acolas, M.L. (2015) Chapter 12 Technical apparatus, analytical techniques and data analyses used in fish migration research Methodologies to study diadromous fish behavior: Conventional, PIT, Acoustic and Radio tagging and Tracking. In Fish migration, eds. Morais P. & Daverat F., p 214-250. CRC press.

Acolas, M.L., Castelnaud G., Lepage M. & Rochard E. (2011) Chapter 10 Biological cycle and migrations. In Biology and conservation of the Atlantic European sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., 1758, Williot P., Rochard E., Desse-Berset N., Kirschbaum F. & Gessner J., p147-152. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Acolas, M.L., Gessner J. & Rochard E. (2011) Chapter 44 Population conservation requires improved understanding of in-situ life histories. In Biology and conservation of the Atlantic European sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., 1758, eds. Williot P., Rochard E., Desse-Berset N., Kirschbaum F. & Gessner J., p 585-592. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Acolas, M.L., Roqueplo C., Rouleau E. & Rochard E. (2011) Chapter 29 Post release monitoring techniques. In Biology and conservation of the Atlantic European sturgeon Acipenser sturio L., 1758, eds. Williot P., Rochard E., Desse-Berset N., Kirschbaum F. & Gessner J., p 407-716. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

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