Jérôme Orivel

jeudi 5 mai 2011

Research interests

I am interested in the evolution of interspecific interactions and how these interactions promote ecological adaptation and trait plasticity.
Biotic interactions are among the fundamental dimensions of biodiversity as they represent the links that put together the pieces. Such interactions between species encompass a variety of facultative/obligate and opportunistic/specific interactions.

I am focusing mainly on social insects as model systems and especially the interactions between ants and other organisms such as plants, microorganisms or other insects. My research is combining field and lab studies in an integrative approach including chemical, behavioural and molecular ecology.

Current projects involve the study of ant-plant-fungus interactions and the evolution of specific, multipartite int\\A?Z E@@@~[3vkI7P ۀ { kh8ir>


Crematogaster spp., which include a species specifically associated with B. fistulosa, nondominant species and TDAs. Therefore, the SOM permitted the complex relationships between TDAs and their growing host trees to be analyzed, while also providing new information on the ecological traits of the ant species involved.

P-89. Touchard A, Koh JMS, Aili SR, Dejean A, Nicholson GM, Orivel J, Escoubas P. 2015. The complexity and structural diversity of ant venom peptidomes is revealed by mass spectrometry profiling. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 29 : 385-396.

Abstract 2001 Chargé de recherche CNRS (CR2), Laboratoire d’Etude du Comportement Animal, Université Toulouse III. 2000-2001 Post doctoral researcher, Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University. 2000 PhD, Université Paris XIII.

Current research projects



Associate Editor

JPEG - 81.7 ko

Since 2008. Insect Conservation & Diversity (Home Page)



Mélanie Fichaux. Disentangling drivers of amazonian ant community structure across geographic and environmental gradients.

Alex Salas-Lopez. Trophic diversity and quantification of ecosystem processes in ants.

Axel Touchard. Biodiversity, biochemistry and pharmocology of bioactive peptides from ant venoms. Cosupervisor : Pierre Escoubas



Fabrice Marger. 2011-2013. Electrophysiology and pharmacology of venom toxins.

Mario Xavier Ruiz-Gonzalez. 2008-2009. Molecular ecology of an ant-fungus interaction.


Jérémie Lauth. Tripartism in a mutualistic interaction between ants, plants and fungi. Cosupervisors : Alain Dejean & Céline Leroy.

Pierre Jean Malé. 2007-2011. Molecular ecology of an ant-plant association. Co-supervisor : Angélique Quilichini

Julien Grangier. 2004-2008. Evolutionary stability in an obligate and specific ant-plant mutualism. Co-supervisor : Alain Dejean

Latest publications

Articles in international journals

P-92. Dejean A., Ryder S., Bolton B., Compin A., Leponce M., Azémar F., Céréghino R., Orivel, J., Corbara B. 2015. How territoriality and host-tree taxa determine the structure of ant mosaics. The Science of Nature 102 : 33.


Very large colonies of territorially dominant arboreal ants (TDAAs), whose territories are distributed in a mosaic pattern in the canopies of many tropical rainforests and tree crop plantations, have a generally positive impact on their host trees. We studied the canopy of an old Gabonese rainforest (ca 4.25 ha sampled, corresponding to 206 "large" trees) at a stage just preceding forest maturity (the Caesalpinioideae dominated ; the Burseraceae were abundant). The tree crowns sheltered colonies from 13 TDAAs plus a co-dominant species out of the 25 ant species recorded. By mapping the TDAAs’ territories and using a null model co-occurrence analysis, we confirmed the existence of an ant mosaic. Thanks to a large sampling set and the use of the self-organizing map algorithm (SOM), we show that the distribution of the trees influences the structure of the ant mosaic, suggesting that each tree taxon attracts certain TDAA species rather than others. The SOM also improved our knowledge of the TDAAs’ ecological niches, showing that these ant species are ecologically distinct from each other based on their relationships with their supporting trees. Therefore, TDAAs should not systematically be placed in the same functional group even when they belong to the same genus. We conclude by reiterating that, in addition to the role played by TDAAs’ territorial competition, host trees contribute to structuring ant mosaics through multiple factors, including host-plant selection by TDAAs, the age of the trees, the presence of extrafloral nectaries, and the taxa of the associated hemipterans.

P-91. Bertelsmeier C, Avril A, Blight O, Confais A, Diez L, Jourdan H, Orivel J, Saint Germès N & Courchamp F. 2015. Different behavioural strategies among seven highly invasive ant species. Biological Invasions, 17 : 2491-2503.


Ants figure prominently among the worst invasive species because of their enormous ecological and economic impacts. However, it remains to be investigated which species would be behaviourally dominant when confronted with another invasive ant species, should two species be introduced in the same area. In the future, many regions might have suitable environmental conditions for several invasive ant species, as predicted under climate change scenarios. Here, we explored interactions among several highly invasive ant species, which have been shown to have overlapping suitable areas. The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance in interference competition of seven of the world’s worst invasive ant species (Anoplolepis gracilipes, Paratrechina longicornis, Myrmica rubra, Linepithema humile, Lasius neglectus, Wasmannia auropunctata and Pheidole megacephala). We conducted pairwise confrontations, testing the behaviour of each species against each of the six other species (in total 21 dyadic confrontations). We used single worker confrontations and group interactions of 10 versus 10 individuals to establish a dominance hierarchy among these invasive ant species. We discovered two different behavioural strategies among these invasive ants : three species displayed evasive or indifferent behaviour when individuals or groups were confronted (A. gracilipes, Pa. longicornis, M. rubra), while the four remaining species were highly aggressive during encounters and formed a linear dominance hierarchy. These findings contrast with the widespread view that invasive ants form a homogeneous group of species displaying the ‘invasive syndrome’, which includes generally aggressive behaviour. The dominance hierarchy among the four aggressive species may be used to predict the outcome of future competitive interactions under some circumstances. Yet, the existence of several behavioural strategies renders such a prediction less straightforward.

P-90. Dejean A, Azémar F, Céréghino R, Leponce M, Corbara B, Orivel J, Compin A. 2015. The dynamics of ant mosaics in tropical rainforests characterized using the Self-Organizing Map algorithm. Insect Science, DOI : 10.1111/1744-7917.12208.


Ants, the most abundant taxa among canopy-dwelling animals in tropical rainforests, are mostly represented by territorially dominant arboreal ants (TDAs) whose territories are distributed in a mosaic pattern (arboreal ant mosaics). Large TDA colonies regulate insect herbivores, with implications for forestry and agronomy. What generates these mosaics in vegetal formations, which are dynamic, still needs to be better understood. So, from empirical research based on 3 Cameroonian tree species (Lophira alata, Ochnaceae ; Anthocleista vogelii, Gentianaceae ; and Barteria fistulosa, Passifloraceae), we used the Self-Organizing Map (SOM, neural network) to illustrate the succession of TDAs as their host trees grow and age. The SOM separated the trees by species and by size for L. alata, which can reach 60 m in height and live several centuries. An ontogenic succession of TDAs from sapling to mature trees is shown, and some ecological traits are highlighted for certain TDAs. Also, because the SOM permits the analysis of data with many zeroes with no effect of outliers on the overall scatterplot distributions, we obtained ecological information on rare species. Finally, the SOM permitted us to show that functional groups cannot be selected at the genus level as congeneric species can have very different ecological niches, something particularly true for Crematogaster spp., which include a species specifically associated with B. fistulosa, nondominant species and TDAs. Therefore, the SOM permitted the complex relationships between TDAs and their growing host trees to be analyzed, while also providing new information on the ecological traits of the ant species involved.

P-89. Touchard A, Koh JMS, Aili SR, Dejean A, Nicholson GM, Orivel J, Escoubas P. 2015. The complexity and structural diversity of ant venom peptidomes is revealed by mass spectrometry profiling. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 29 : 385-396.


RATIONALE : Compared with other animal venoms, ant venoms remain little explored. Ants have evolved complex venoms to rapidly immobilize arthropod prey and to protect their colonies from predators and pathogens. Many ants have retained peptide-rich venoms that are similar to those of other arthropod groups.
METHODS : With the goal of conducting a broad and comprehensive survey of ant venom peptide diversity, we investigated the peptide composition of venoms from 82 stinging ant species from nine subfamilies using matrix- assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS). We also conducted an in-depth investigation of eight venoms using reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC) separation coupled with offline MALDI-TOFMS.
RESULTS : Our results reveal that the peptide compositions of ant venom peptidomes from both poneroid and formicoid ant clades comprise hundreds of small peptides (<4 kDa), while large peptides (>4 kDa) are also present in the venom of formicoids. Chemical reduction revealed the presence of disulfide-linked peptides in most ant subfamilies, including peptides structured by one, two or three disulfide bonds as well as dimeric peptides reticulated by three disulfide bonds.
CONCLUSIONS : The biochemical complexity of ant venoms, associated with an enormous ecological and taxonomic diversity, suggests that stinging ant venoms constitute a promising source of bioactive molecules that could be exploited in the search for novel drug and biopesticide leads.

P-88. Houadria M, Salas-Lopez A, Orivel J, Blüthgen N & Menzel F. 2015. Dietary and temporal niche differentiation in species-rich assemblages - can they explain local tropical ant coexistence ? Biotropica, 47 : 208-217.


How species with similar ecological requirements avoid competitive exclusion remains contentious, especially in the species-rich tropics. Niche differentiation has been proposed as a major mechanism for species coexistence. However, different niche dimensions must be studied simultaneously to assess their combined effects on diversity and composition of a community. In most terrestrial ecosystems, ants are among the most abundant and ubiquitous animals. Since they display direct, aggressive competition and often competitively dis- place subordinate species from resources, niche differentiation may be especially relevant among ants. We studied temporal and trophic niche differentiation in a ground ant community in a forest fragment in French Guiana. Different baits were presented during day and night to assess the temporal and dietary niches of the local species. They represented natural food resources such as sugars, carrion, excrements, seeds, and live prey. In addition, pitfalls provided a background measure of ant diversity. The communities attracted to the different baits significantly differed from each other, and even less attractive baits yielded additional species. We detected species special- ized on living grasshoppers, sucrose, seeds, or dead insects. Community-level differences between day and night were larger than those between baits, and many species were temporally specialized. In contrast to commonness, foraging efficiency of species was correlated to food specialization. We conclude that many ant species occupy different temporal or dietary niches. However, for many generalized species, the dietary, and temporal niche differentiation brought forward through our sampling effort, cannot alone explain their coexistence.

P-87. Robillard T, ter Hofstede H, Orivel J & Vicente NM. 2015. Bioacoustics of the Neotropical Eneopterinae (Orthoptera, Grylloidea, Gryllidae). Bioacoustics, 24 : 123-143.


In members of the cricket subfamily Eneopterinae (Orthoptera, Grylloidea), songs with powerful high-frequency (HF) harmonics have evolved, which likely represents a distinctive acoustic adaptation. In this study, we analysed or reanalysed the songs of the three eneopterine genera present in the Neotropics to evaluate whether they also possess high-amplitude HF components. We present new data and combine several lines of evidence to interpret or reinterpret the calling signals of a representative species for each genus. We used new recordings in order to detect and analyse potential HF components of the songs. Stridulatory files were measured, and stridulation was studied using high-speed video recordings. The results suggest that all eneopterine genera from the Neotropics use HFs to communicate, based on the rich harmonic content of their songs. Strikingly, the Neotropical eneopterines possess high dominant frequencies, recalling the patterns observed in the tribe Lebinthini, the most speciose tribe of the subfamily distributed in the Western Pacific region and in Southeast Asia : Ligypterus and Ponca show dominant harmonic peaks, whereas Eneoptera possesses unique features. The three species under study, however, deal differently with HFs.

P-86. Malé PJG, Leroy C, Lusignan L, Petitclerc F, Quilichini A, Orivel J. 2015. The reproductive biology of the myrmecophyte, Hirtella physophora, and the limitation of negative interactions between pollinators and ants. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 9 : 23-31.


Myrmecophytism occurs in plants that offer ants a nesting space and, often, food rewards in exchange for protection from predators and competitors. Such biotic protection by ants can, however, interfere with the activity of pollinators leading to potential negative consequences for the plant’s reproduction. In this study, we focused on the association between the understory myrmecophyte, Hirtella physophora (Chrysobalanaceae), and its obligate ant partner, Allomerus decemarticulatus (Myrmicinae). We investigated the reproductive biology of H. physophora and the putative mechanisms that may limit ant–pollinator conflict. Our results show that H. physophora is an obligate outcrosser, self-incompatible, and potentially insect-pollinated species. The reproduction of H. physophora relies entirely on pollen transfer by pollinators that are likely quite specific. Potential interference between flower-visiting insects during pollination may also be lessened by a spatial and temporal segregation of ant and pollinator activities, thus enabling pollen transfer and fruit production.










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