LIFE Infrastructure – PEARL facility (Experimental Aquatic Platform, Rennes/Le Rheu)

LIFE Infrastructure - PEARL facility (Experimental Aquatic Platform, Rennes/Le Rheu)
Legal name of organisation
Infrastructure multi-site: RI LIFE
Organisation address


Agnes Bardonnet

64310 St-Pée-sur-Nivelle




65, rue de St Brieuc

35 042 Rennes cedex,


Primary contact information (PI)

Dr Eric Edeline,

Ing. Didier Azam

Years of Mesocosm Experiments
1987 - prensent (large earth ponds); 1997 - present (mesocosms platform and indoor microcosms)
Description of Facility

Our platforms are engineered for versatility and adaptation to a large range of experimental designs.

The Rennes platform includes about 200 mesocosms (0.4 to 30 m3) and allows for a high replication of experimental treatments. We can reconstruct pond communities from invertebrates to fish to study their response to external forcing (natural or anthropogenic). Our mesocosms are also equipped for ecotoxicology experiments and manipulation of invasive species (we are accredited and master confinement and treatment procedures).

Additionally, a series of outdoor tanks are equipped for thermal experiments (up to 4°C above ambient temperature).

The mesocosm platform is complemented with an 800 m2 indoor microcosm (10-to-400 L) facility in which we can accurately manipulate environmental factors, and where we routinely culture a variety of organisms (algae, plants, plankton, invertebrates, amphibians, fish…).


Finally, at Le Rheu (5 km from Rennes) we further propose a series of large earth ponds of 100, 350, 500 or 1000 m3, which all may be  subdivided or installed with cages.

Controlled Parameters
  • Temperature (including via thermistors)
  • rain
  • light
  • photoperiod
  • nutrients
  • community structure (species and trophic composition)
  • gas (CO2, O2)
Research Topics

Population dynamics and community change in response to environment (in particular for contaminants in the context of global change)

Facility location(s)
48.1130833, -1.4822222222222223; 48.1202778, -1.7919444444444443
Primary interests

The LIFE Infrastructure is dedicated to the study of changes in freshwater ecosystems biodiversity with a primary interest in fish evolution and population dynamics. In this context, we also manipulate invertebrates, plants, mollusc, phyto and zooplankton. Major strengths of LIFE are its numerous facilities, the high expertise of its technical staff, and the possibility to perform experiments across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. The main objective of  RI LIFE is to decipher the effects of multiple environmental forcings on individuals, populations or communities in order to inform management decisions for fish populations.

Specialist areas

Population and community dynamics, Environment, Ecotoxicology


In addition, the direct connection of PEARL and ECP, with ESE ( and ECOBIOP ( research teams ensures access to additional analytical platforms (environmental and analytical chemistry, trophic and molecular biology), as well as expertise of a broad scientific community.

  • Variety of sampling tools for invertebrates and fish (emergence traps, nets, invertebrate or fish traps…)
  • electric fishing
  • PIT Tagging
  • mobile and fix antennas
  • habitat (flowmeters, series of sieves).
  • Sensors for continuous parameter recording (temperature, O2, conductivity, rainfall, PAR…)
  • Probes for temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved O2, turbidity…
  • Equipment for sample measurements (weight scales, computer-connected optics…)
  • treatment (heat chamber, hood), and temporary stocking (fridges, -20°C and -80°C freezers).
  • Sclerochronology laboratory (scales and otoliths).
  • Laboratory spectrometers for most of dissolved elements

  • FlowCam 800 (organisms up to 600 µm) and FlowCam Macro (up to 5mm)

  • PhytoPam for measurement of active chlorophyll concentration and algal productivity.

  • Autoclave

  • Water samplers.Strong expertise in using electric fishing, acoustic cameras and acoustic tracking.


Rennes mesocosm platform is located at AgroCampusOuest within the city of Rennes, a university city located 1.5 hours by train from Paris (Airport and train station in Rennes). On the campus, visitors have access to individual apartments, and many hotels are available in the vicinity of the campus.

Photos of experiments/installations
Aerial view Rennes experimental complex; Foto credit: Caquet/INRA


Series of 30 mesocosms, Foto credit: Beaumont/INRA
Aerial view ponds station, Foto credit: Geoportrail/IGN
Series of mesocosms 30 m3 and 9 m3, Foto credit: Beaumont/INRA