Jacques TASSIN

Nature beyond ecology


Fields of interest

• invasive species and plant movements
• cultural ecology
• island ecology
• links between ecological concepts and representation of nature
• land-use change and environmental history
• Madagascar, and the Indian Ocean region



Specific research focus

(i) Using exotic species to investigate the relations between preserved / transformed nature and occidental / tropical cultures (focus 1 and 2).

(ii) Facing and revisiting ecological concepts deriving from the occidental representation of nature (focus 3 and 4)

Focus 1 - Invasive species: an outstanding model to study the regards of man on nature

Biological invasion is a hybrid non post-modern concept which deliberately separates the biophysical part of a phenomenon from the representation we have of it. The concept results from the occidental seminal book of Charles Elton (The ecology of invasions by animals and plants) who contributed to set up a global and emotional regard on invasive species which still persists nowadays. My work does not deny the reality of biological invasions. It consists in clarifying the gap between a biological reality and our representation of it, through analysing conceptual or practical frameworks, discourses, uses of metaphors, and scale effects. It contributes to build a new general framework which does not exclude the cultural part of biological invasions but aims to recognize it as a main part of our regard on such a phenomenon.


Main publications on focus 1

Tassin, J. and C. Kull (in press). A melting pot world: a reply to Speziale et al's native culture proposal. Conservation Biology.  

Tassin, J. and C. Kull (in press). Facing the boader dimensions of biological invasions. Land Use Policy

Kull, C., Carrière, S., Moreau, S., Rakoto Ramiamantsoa, H., Tassin, J. (2013). Melting pots of biodiversity: tropical smallholder farm landscapes as guarantors of sustainability. Environment : Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 55: 6-16. link

Tassin, J. and C. Kull (2012). Pour une autre représentation métaphorique des invasions biologiques. Nature Sciences Société 20(4): 404-414. link 

Kull, C. and J. Tassin  (2012).  Australian acacias: useful and (sometimes) weedy. Biological Invasions. 14: 2229-2233. link

Tassin, J. (2012). Entre natures et cultures : penser les invasions biologiques aux échelles locales. In : Raineau L., Poireau-Delpech S. Pour une socio-anthropologie de l'environnement, Panthéon Sorbonne. Editions l'Harlattan, Paris, pp. 225-232. 

Wilson, J. R. U., Gairifo C., et al. (2011). Risk assessment, eradication, containment, and biological control: global efforts to manage Australian acacias before they become widespread invaders. Diversity and Distributions 17: 1030-1046. link

Tassin, J., G. Thiébaut, et al. (2011). Objectiver la perception des invasions biologiques. Revue d'Ecologie (Terre Vie) 67: 195-198. link

Tassin, J. (2010). Le réchauffement climatique va-t-il conduire les petites îles à être englouties sous les invasions biologiques ? VertigO 10(3). link

Tassin, J., J. Triolo, et al. (2009). L'évolution des stratégies de lutte contre les invasions végétales à l'Ile de La Réunion. Revue d'Ecologie (Terre Vie) 64(2): 101-115. link 

Tassin, J., J. M. Médoc, et al. (2009). Can invasion patches of Acacia mearnsii serve as colonizing sites for native plant species on Réunion (Mascarene archipelago)? African Journal of Ecology 47: 422-432. link

Tassin, J., R. Bellefontaine, et al. (2009). Evaluation préliminaire des risques d'invasion par les essences forestières introduites à Madagascar. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 299(1): 27-36. link

Tassin, J. (2008). Vers un autre regard sur les invasions biologiques. Le Courrier de la Nature 237: 20-25. link

Kull, C. A., J. Tassin, et al. (2008). Invasive Australian acacias on western Indian Ocean islands: a historical and ecological perspective. African Journal of Ecology 46(4): 684-689. link 

Tassin, J., J.-M. Sarrailh, et al. (2007). Essences forestières et invasions : des systèmes de prédiction de plus en plus fiables. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 292(2): 71-79. link 

Tassin, J., J. Triolo, et al. (2007). Ornamental plant invasions in mountain forests of Réunion (Mascarene Archipelago): a status review and management directions. African Journal of Ecology 45(3): 444-447. link

Kull, C. A., J. Tassin, et al. (2007). Multifunctional, scrubby, and invasive forests? Wattles in the highlands of Madagascar. Mountain Research and Development 27(3): 224-231. link

Tassin, J., C. Lavergne, et al. (2006). Bilan des connaissances sur les conséquences écologiques des invasions de plantes a l'île de la Réunion (Archipel des Mascareignes, Océan Indien). Revue d'écologie (Terre Vie) 61(1): 35-52. link

Tassin, J., J.-N. Rivière, et al. (2006). Ranking of invasive woody plant species for management on Réunion Island. Weed Research 46(5): 388-403. link 

Tassin, J. and G. Balent (2004). Le diagnostic d'invasion d'une essence forestière en milieu rural : exemple d'Acacia mearnsii à La Réunion. Revue Forestière Française 56(2): 132-142. link

Focus 2 - The representation of charismatic versus hated species

As a consequence of my work on the representation of invasive species, I have addressed the specific issue of charismatic versus hated species. I have focused this part of my research on three genera: the native baobabs and the exotic (Australian) eucalyptus and acacias. I am interested in the historical changes of perception of such ‘emotionally loaded' species, and in the rhetorical or pseudo-scientific artifices we use to describe them. My favourite field to study this point is Madagascar, where the gap between the fascinating biodiversity of forest remnants and the dominant transformed landscapes is outstanding.

Main publications on focus 2

Verhaegen, D., A. Assoumane, J. Serret, S. Noe, C. Chambrey, B. Favreau, A. Vaillant, G. Gateblé, A. Pain, C. Papineau, L. Maggia, J. Tassin, J.-M. Bouvet (2013). Structure and genetic diversity of Ixora margaretae an endangered species: a baseline study for conservation and restoration of natural dry forest of New Caledonia. Journal for Nature Conservation 9: 511-524. link

Tassin, J., H. Rangan, et al. (2012). Hybrid improved tree fallows: Harnessing invasive woody legumes for agroforestry. Agroforestry systems 84: 417-428. link

Kull, C. A., J. Tassin, et al. (2011). The introduced flora of Madagascar. Biological Invasions. DOI: 10.1007/s10530-011-0124-6Online link

Kull, C. A., C. Shackleton, et al. (2011). Adoption, use, and perception of Australian acacias around the world. Diversity and Distributions 17: 822-836. link

Verhaegen, D., H. Randrianjafy, et al. (2011). Histoire de l'introduction et de la domestication de l'eucalyptus à Madagascar. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 309(3): 17-25.

Tassin, J. (2011). Les plantations forestières industrielles à l'épreuve des représentations de la nature. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 309(3): 9-16. link

Tassin, J., A. P. Missamba-Lola, et al. (2011). Biodiversité des plantations d'eucalyptus. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 309(3): 27-35. link

Tassin, J. (2010). Editorial - Baobabs : un genre particulier. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 306: 4-5. link

Tassin, J., R. Rakotomanana, et al. (2009). Proposition d'un cadre de représentation des bioinvasions en milieu rural : cas de Acacia dealbata à Madagascar. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 300(2): 5-16. link


Focus 3 - Facing a both scientific and philosophical issue: ‘is there an order in nature?'

The idea of order has penetrated of representation of nature since Aristote. The post-war odumian concepts of ecology have heavily reinforced this regard which is still predominant, despite of the numerous advances of neutral ecology. I have addressed this issue, focusing two main items: (i) plant dispersal involving multualisms with birds or other plant species, (ii) and structure of plant communities along ecological gradients. Unsurprisingly, my main conclusions are (i) that plant dispersal mutualisms are often interchangeable, possibly involving introduced dispersers, and (ii) that communities are mainly ‘ordered' following perturbation events and resource controlling factors.


Main publications on focus 3

Andriantsaralaza, S., M. Pedrono, J. Tassin et al. (2013). The role of extinct giant tortoises in the germination of extant baobab Adansonia rubrostipa seeds in Madagascar. African Journal of Ecology 52(2): 246-249. link  

Dupuy, S., G. Lainé, J. Tassin et al. (2013). Characterization of the horizontal structure of the tropical forest canopy using object-based LiDAR and multispectral image analysis. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 25: 76-86. link

Tassin, J. (2011). Des arbres en mal de dispersion ? Le Courrier de la Nature 253: 20-25. link

Tassin, J., M. Boissenin, et al. (2010). Can Ptilinopus greyi (Columbidae) disperse seeds from New Caledonia's dry forests? Pacific Science 64(4): 527-532. link

Andriantsaralaza, S., M. Pedrono, et al. (2010). Baobabs de Madagascar : un anachonisme de la dispersion ? Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 306(4): 7-15. link

Tassin, J. and M. Cotignola (2009). The elevational gradient of plant species richness in maquis of New Caledonia. Acta Botanica Gallica 156(3): 469-475. link

Tassin, J., N. Barré, et al. (2008). Effect of ingestion by Drepanoptila holosericea (Columbidae) on the seed germination of Santalum austrocaledonicum (Santalaceae). Journal of Tropical Ecology 24: 215-218. link

Derroire, G., J. Tassin, et al. (2008). Flowering and fruiting phenology in maquis of New Caledonia. Acta Botanica Gallica 155(2): 263-275. link

Tassin, J., J.-N. Rivière, et al. (2007). Reproductive versus vegetative recruitment of the invasive tree Schinus terebenthifolius: implications for restoration on Reunion Island. Restoration Ecology 15(3): 412-419. link

Derroire, G., L. Schmitt, et al. (2007). The essential role of tree-fern trunks in the regeneration of Weinmannia tinctoria in rain forest on Réunion, Mascarene Archipelago. Journal of Tropical Ecology 23: 487-492. link

Bottin L., Tassin J., et al. (2007). Molecular, quantitative and abiotic variables for the delineation of evolutionary significant units : case of sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum Vieillard) in New Caledonia. Conservation Genetics 8(1): 99-109. link

Bocquet, A., C. Chambrey, et al. (2007). Modes de colonisation de la savane arborée par des plantes de forêt tropicale sèche en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Revue d'Ecologie (Terre Vie) 62: 87-91. link

Tassin, J., G. Derroire, et al. (2006). Variation morphométrique des feuilles de Aphloia theiformis le long d'un gradient altitudinal à la Réunion. Revue d'Ecologie (Terre Vie) 61(4): 397-400. link

Bottin, L., D. Verhaegen, et al. (2005). Genetic diversity and population structure of an insular tree, Santalum austrocaledonicum in New Caledonian archipelago. Molecular Ecology 14: 1979-1989. link

Tassin, J., G. Derroire, et al. (2004). Gradient altitudinal de la richesse spécifique et de l'endémicité de la flore ligneuse indigène à l'île de La Réunion (archipel des Mascareignes). Acta Botanica Gallica 151(2): 181-196. link

Mandon-Dalger, I., P. Clergeau, et al. (2004). Relationships between alien plants and an alien bird species on Reunion Island. Journal of Tropical Ecology 20(6): 635-642. link

Tassin, J. and J.-N. Rivière (2003). Gradient altitudinal de richesse en plantes invasives à l'île de La Réunion (archipel des Mascareignes, océan Indien). Revue d'Ecologie (Terre et Vie) 58: 257-270.

Tassin, J. and J.-N. Rivière (2001). Le rôle potentiel du Leiothrix jaune Leiothrix lutea dans la germination de plantes envahissantes à La Réunion (océan Indien). Alauda 69(3): 37-41.


Focus 4 - Revisiting ecological concepts resulting from the perception of nature

Last, I am interested in analyzing the fundamental baselines which gave birth to our main ecological concepts, and returning to philosophical literature as far as necessary. What is turned into evidences is often resulting from our common philosophical background. A good example of it is our ability to see ecological systems as organisms, thanks to Plato. I have recently questioned the assimilation of the agroecosystem with an ecosystem. I also addressed the origin of the positive valued posture consisting in ‘imitating nature' in agroecology.

Main publications on focus 4

Tassin, J. (2013). Quantifier la nature. Le Courrier de la Nature 276: 36-38.

Tassin, J. (2013). Imiter la nature en agro-écologie ? Nature & Progrès 91: 38-39.

Tassin, J. (2012). La résilience au fil de l'eau. Bois et Forêts des Tropiques 311: 3-4. 

Tassin, J. (2012). L'agrosystème est-il un écosystème ? Cahiers de l'Agriculture 21(1): 57-63. link

Tassin, J. (2011). Quand l'agro-écologie se propose d'imiter la nature. Courrier de l'environnement de l'INRA. 61: 45-53. link 

Tassin, J. (2011). Qu'est l'écosystème forestier devenu ? Revue Forestière Française 63(1): 93-94. link

Tassin, J. (2010). Invasions biologiques : le jeu d'une mauvaise nature ? Nature et Progrès 79: 10-11.

Tassin, J. (2009). La représentation du vivant : nous n'avons jamais été modernes. Nature et Progrès 71: 12-13.




Tassin, J. (2014). La grande invasion. Qui a peur des espèces invasives ? Editions Odile Jacob. Paris, 216 p. link

Tassin, J. (2011). Arbres et arbustes introduits dans les îles tropicales. Editions Orphie. Paris, 302 p. link

Tassin, J. (2010). Plantes et animaux venus d'ailleurs : une brève histoire des invasions biologiques. Editions Orphie. Paris, 125 p. link

Rivière J.-N., Tassin J. (photos) (2003). Arbres et arbustes exotiques à La Réunion. Editions Orphie. Saint-Denis, 102 p. link

Tassin J. (2000). Guide de choix d'espèces pour le boisement à l'île de la Réunion. Imprimerie CKC. Saint-Pierre, 92 p.

Tassin J. (1990). Agroforesterie et conservation des sols. Editions Nature et Progrès. Montpellier, 140 p.



Habilitation Degree (HDR), Institut Polytechnique of Toulouse, France - Dissertation: "Seed dispersal pathways. Dispersal, migration, introduction: a contribution to seed movement ecology"

PhD - Laboratory of Terrestrial Ecology, University Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, France - Advisor: Prof Lauga J. - Dissertation: "Dynamics and consequences of the invasion of Acacia mearnsii in rural landscapes of Reunion Island"



French senior researcher in the « Environnement and Society » departement of Cirad (Centre of International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development)
Postal address: CIRAD - TA 10/D - Campus international de Baillarguet - 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5 - France
Mail :



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(02 December 2013 )

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