Modelling adaptive capacities in goats to manage resilience and efficiency at the herd level
Animal physiology and farming, French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment
15 September 2020
(application date has expired)
£2,000 to £2,200 euros (net salary)
The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France. The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.
WORK ENVIRONMENT, MISSIONS AND ACTIVITIES
The postdoctoral fellow will join an interdisciplinary European project (funded by PRIMA program) called Adapt-Herd (Management strategies to improve herd resilience and efficiency by harnessing the adaptive capacities of small ruminants). ADAPT-HERD aims at developing management simulation tools to implement and design innovative strategies for resilience and efficiency (R&E) in small ruminant herds, based on harnessing animal adaptive capacities. These tools will address current feed resource constraints in the Mediterranean area, but will also deal with future perturbations induced by climate change. They will cover a wide range of Mediterranean farming conditions with sheep and goat breeds from Egypt, France, Spain and Tunisia. A key rationale of Adapt-Herd is that biological adaptive capacities of small ruminants can be fully integrated within management strategies to improve R&E at herd level. Managing reproduction and herd demography can be used to best match local resource dynamics and herd demand. Targeting groups of animals with the greatest potential to respond can be used to reduce cost of intervention. Exploring how different management strategies impact R&E with “what if” simulations implies to combine information at the animal level (biological mechanisms to cope with nutritional challenges) and at the farming system level (herd management, resource dynamics, market conditions). The expected results will contribute to find strategies that are good enough in terms of efficiency, to ensure sufficient income for farmers, and also good enough in terms of resilience, to ensure farm sustainability.
The main mission of the postdoc will be to i) build quantitative knowledge on adaptive capacities based on multivariate time-series data from our experimental program; ii) integrate this knowledge in an existing model of animal lifetime trajectory and calibrate for different breeds; iii) design and run simulations studies to explore R&E at the herd level for various farming systems and under different scenarios of climate change.
The research will be carried out at the MoSAR lab in Paris and Palaiseau. The postdoc fellow will work with Laurence Puillet and Nicolas Friggens and collaborate with Frederic Douhard (INRAE Genphyse) and Amandine Lurette (INRAE Selmet).
TRAINING AND SKILLS
PhD in biology/agricultural sciences or applied maths/stats
Excellent communication skills to interact in an interdisciplinary environment (animal sciences, farming systems, statistical and systemic modelling)
Expertise in modelling dynamic systems (ODE, parameter estimation, sensitivity analysis) and dedicated software: R, Python
Good knowledge and/or strong motivation in biological systems and data analysis