Cusset Fanny

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PhD Student (2019-2022)
EUCLIDE doctoral school, La Rochelle University
Original training :
M.Sc. Biology, Laval University Laval (2016-2019) : « Investigating the importance of sea ice and its derived resources for Arctic seabirds »
Certificat Université Césure, Aix Marseille University (2015-2016) : year-round internship at Laval University
B.Sc. Earth and Life Sciences – Biological oceanography, Aix Marseille University (2012-2015)

(2019-2022) Seabirds as bioindicators of past and current mercury contamination in the ocean: a global approach

Keywords : Ecotoxicology, Mercury, Ecology, Ocean, Stables isotopes, Seabirds
Supervisors :
-  Paco BUSTAMANTE,Professor-Researcher, La Rochelle University, LIENSs UMR 7266
-  Yves CHEREL, CNRS Research director, CEBC UMR 7372
-  Jérôme FORT, Researcher, La Rochelle University, LIENSs UMR 7266
Funding : :Ministry of National Education, Research and Technology (MENRT)

Seabirds as bioindicators of past and current mercury contamination in the ocean: a global approach

« Mercury (Hg) is a non-essential and toxic metal that is naturally present in marine ecosystems. However, since the Industrial Era Hg is heavily released in the environment by human activities. As a global pollutant, Hg contaminates all sorts of ecosystems, even the most remote ones such as abysses or polar regions. Hence, Hg represents an important threat for several human populations that rely on marine food resources, identified as the main source of Hg contamination in Humans.
In a context of climate change, this PhD project aims to determine spatial and temporal trends of Hg contamination in the ocean, at a global scale, by using seabirds as bioindicators of marine ecosystems.
More specifically, our objectives are to:
1) Determine global temporal trends of Hg contamination retrospectively, on century-long time scales (i.e. since the Industrial Era), by analyzing feathers of museum specimens and contemporary birds.
2) Map the present Hg contamination worldwide on a global scale, by focusing on largely distributed species, such as the Brünnich guillemot (Uria lomvia; Arctic), the sooty tern (Onychoprion fuscatus; Tropics) and the Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae; Antarctic).
3) Relate Hg exposure and feeding habitats thanks to stable isotope analyses, in order to investigate latitudinal trends in the Southern Ocean. »
Source :

Main collaborations :

  • James Reynolds, Researcher, Centre for Ornithology, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham (UK)
  • Flemming Ravn Merkel, Senior Researcher, Department of Biosciences, Aarhus University (Danemark)
  • Jannie Fries Linnebjerg, Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Biosciences, Aarhus University (Danemark)
  • Louise Emmerson, Researcher, Australian Antarctic Division (Australia)
  • Jean-Baptiste Thiebot, Postdoctoral researcher, National Institute of Polar Research (Japan)
  • Kate Toniolo, Superintendent, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (USA)

Publications :

  • Cusset, F., Fort, J., Mallory, M. et al. Arctic seabirds and shrinking sea ice: egg analyses reveal the importance of ice-derived resources. Sci Rep 9, 15405 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-51788-4

Teaching activities :

  • Enseignement à l’Université de La Rochelle (Département de Biologie-FST)