The strength of our network
The strength of our expertise is matched by the strength of our network. Both internally and externally, it combines a wide range of skills, professions and organisations. Here's how it works...
In the field of public health, for example, the Museum provides knowledge on endocrine disruptors, in particular on substances that affect the production of thyroid hormones essential to the development of the brain in mammals or to the metamorphosis of amphibians. By deciphering this problem, thanks to our joint research units, in particular with the CNRS, we are able to enlighten public decision-makers and raise awareness among the general public of the need to better assess certain chemicals present in the environment. This will lead to better protection for everyone. This work is part of a much broader dynamic, supported by the WHO, namely that of 'One Health'; an approach validating human-animal-ecosystem interactions that is at least relevant in the context of emerging threats such as pandemics, which we must confront.
Together with the 27 European countries, we are also working to improve our knowledge of biodiversity. This mammoth task consists of recording the state of conservation of fauna, flora and fungi (mushrooms) in each country, the dangers that threaten them and the means of protecting them on the basis of adapted methodologies or nomenclatures.
Let's take the example of the common sculpin (Cottus gobio), a common freshwater fish widely found in rivers. This protected species comes in several subspecies, which are not easy to differentiate. Thanks to our European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity, specialists harmonise and validate data to establish a precise state of play regarding this animal, and more broadly on biodiversity. Every six years, a general report on nature in Europe is finalised at the Museum and published by the European Environment Agency.
Another example of an assignment: two expert reports on the wolf (Canis lupus), carried out at the behest of the State. In one case, in association with the Office national de la Chasse et de la Faune sauvage (now integrated into the Office français de la biodiversité) and multidisciplinary experts, we drew up an inventory of the ecological and biological aspects of the presence of the wolf in mainland France, in a context of tensions affecting certain regions. The second expert study, on the sociological, cultural and ethnological aspects of this issue, involved no less than eight scientists!
In the end, our reports on the wolf hardly caused any controversy: a real guarantee of objectivity for the Museum and its partners, and tools to support the State in its decisions.
Did you know?
The Museum also contributes to the control of international trade in endangered species via CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In this area, our cooperation has led to the confiscation of a 150 kg piece of ivory offered at auction. At the request of customs officials, we were able to send a specialist to the site as a matter of urgency, whose was able to provide a formal report on the use of this material, notwithstanding the fact that it is strictly regulated. It is worth noting that the Museum is the leading scientific authority on the subject in France.
Implementing actions for the conservation of endemic plant species in the French Overseas Territories (TOMs) requires even more collaboration to describe their diversity and status. The FEnTOM project (Flore Endémique des territoires français d'Outre-mer), which was born from plants conserved in herbaria, has mobilised many botanists around the collections of the Museum and overseas partners. It has made it possible to carry out the most complete inventory to date of these species, which are found nowhere else, and to analyse their state of conservation as well as the threats they face. This collective work will contribute to the development of new chapters of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. And additional expertise serving biodiversity...