Bruno Herault

Scientist with CIRAD (French research institute specialized in development-oriented research for the tropics), Forests & Societies unit

Stationed abroad at Institut National Polytechnique félix Houphouët Boigny (INPHB), Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast 

Steering Comitee of the TMFO and GFBI forest research networks



bruno.herault (at)                                                                                                  


BP 709, Campus Agronomique
97310 Kourou, French Guiana


+594 (0) 694 42 38 18

Research Interests

I am a tropical forest scientist. I have wide research interests, but my current research focused on the effects of global changes (both climate-driven and land-use changes) on the structure, dynamics, composition, functioning of tropical forests as well as on the induced consequences on the ecosystem services they actually provide to humanity. I welcome enquiries from well-qualified graduate students interested in working in these areas.

Modelling the Dynamics of Tropical Forests

An important objective in tropical forest science is to understand how biological traits determine species performance and species sorting across environmental gradients. We work on Bayesian modelling approaches predicting tropical tree vital rates from traits, both hard- and soft-, and including ontogenetic variation in tropical tree performance. Developing general trait-based dynamic models is especially important for diverse tropical forests where many species occur in densities too low to parametrize species-specific dynamic models. In doing so, we hope to bridge the gap between individual-based and community-level statistical models with little parameter inflation. 

Impact of Climate Changes on Rainforests


Climate changes are expected to continue all over the world. Below the tropics, temperatures are expected to rise while dry periods and extreme rain events are expected to be stronger and longer. As we already identified some climate variables as key drivers of tropical forest dynamics, we are now using forest simulators to explore the forest trajectory over the next coming decades under different climate scenarios. Climate-driven processes observed at the tree scale are not directly transposable at the community level because of factors such as compensatory effects between demographic processes (growth, mortality) or non-linear response with ontogeny. We are therefore working to scale our models to be able to go beyond the analytical studies of our current semi-empirical models. 

Modelling land-use change through the Guiana shield

Modelling deforestation to identify the main socio-economic and biophysical drivers of land-use change is a complex and multidisciplinary field, involving economic issues as well as geographical tools and environmental sciences. Until the late 90’s, non-spatially explicit models of deforestation were more common than models integrating spatial variables in their framework even if the deforestation process is a fully spatial process. The development of more and more powerful computers, associated to the widespread uses of Geographic Information Systems and to available land cover data from satellite images, have democratized deforestation models taking into account spatial factors. We work on modelling framework for building spatially explicit models of deforestation upon a radical distinction between purely geographic factors influencing the spatial contagion and socio-economic factors influencing the process intensity.


Finding optimal development trajectories


Predicting the impacts of various global change scenarios of both climate and land-use changes changes on biodiversity, other ecosystem services (carbon stocks, water resources) as well as on economical goods productions of the various tropical forest ecosystems is of primary importance to inform policy makers. Modeling the future of forest-derived goods and services under different scenarios, we aim to provide optimal development trajectories, key areas for conservation, guidelines for sustainable resource uses as well as priority efforts to be made for forest ecosystem restoration. 


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