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LIFE Infrastructure – PEARL facility

Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Infrastructure Description

LIFE-PEARL is part of INRA, a multi-site infrastructure offering micro- meso- and macrocosms for the implementation of scientific programs focused on aquatic ecology. Facilities located on Rennes Agro-Campus consist of a large-scale mesocosm platform and 2 indoor facilities. The large-scale mesocosm platform includes 7 series of 90 mesocosms (2-30m3) and allows for extremely high replication of experimental treatments. Pond communities can be generated ranging from invertebrates to fish for studying their response to external natural or anthropogenic forcing. Mesocosms are also equipped for ecotoxicology experiments and manipulation of invasive species. The 2 indoor-facilities are organised in a series of 12 rooms (7 to 28m2) with accurate temperature, photoperiod and dissolved oxygen concentration control and manipulation features. Depending on requests and research programs, different types of structures (tanks, aquariums, crystallisers) can be installed.

Finally, at Le Rheu (5 km from Rennes) hosts 31 large earth ponds of various sizes (100, 250, 500 or 1000 m2) that are filled by pumping water from the nearby river and may be subdivided or installed with cages.


Rennes AgroCampusOuest incl. series of 12 large outdoor mesocosms (left) and aerial view of the earth ponds at Le Rheu (right) in France. Photos: ©Beaumont/INRA; ©Geoportail/IGN.

Facility Description

Our platforms are engineered for versatility and adaptation to a large range of experimental designs.

The Rennes platform includes about 200 mesocosms (0.4 to 30 m3) and allows for a high replication of experimental treatments. We can reconstruct pond communities from invertebrates to fish to study their response to external forcing (natural or anthropogenic). Our mesocosms are also equipped for ecotoxicology experiments and manipulation of invasive species (we are accredited and master confinement and treatment procedures).

Additionally, a series of outdoor tanks are equipped for thermal experiments (up to 4°C above ambient temperature).

The mesocosm platform is complemented with an 800 m2 indoor microcosm (10-to-400 L) facility in which we can accurately manipulate environmental factors, and where we routinely culture a variety of organisms (algae, plants, plankton, invertebrates, amphibians, fish…).

Finally, at Le Rheu (5 km from Rennes) we further propose a series of large earth ponds of 100, 350, 500 or 1000 m3, which all may be subdivided or installed with cages.

Organisation Address


Agnes Bardonnet





65, rue de St Brieuc

Rennes cedex

35 042


Infrastructure Address

Freshwater Biological Station





Information Sources



Series of mesocosms 30 m3 and 9 m3, Foto credit: Beaumont/INRAAerial view ponds station, Foto credit: Geoportrail/IGNSeries of 30 mesocosms, Photo credit: Beaumont/INRAAerial view Rennes experimental complex; Photo credit: Caquet/INRA


Eric Edeline

Controlled Parameters
  • Temperature (including via thermistors)
  • rain
  • light
  • photoperiod
  • nutrients
  • community structure (species and trophic composition)
  • gas (CO2, O2)
Research Topics

Population dynamics and community change in response to environment (in particular for contaminants in the context of global change)

Experiment Years

1987 - prensent (large earth ponds); 1997 - present (mesocosms platform and indoor microcosms)

TA Support

Services currently offered by the infrastructure: PEARL runs relatively long-term experiments on the interactive effects of local and/or global changes on freshwater communities. Both platforms (Rennes & Le Rheu) are engineered for versatility and adaptation to a large range of experimental designs. In addition to providing access to various types of mesocosm, all users will be offered technical and logistic support before and during the experiments as well as offices and lab space. In addition to probes and sensors to measure classical physico-chemical parameters, a PhytoPAM (chlorophyll a) and spectrophotometers are available. The laboratory offers scales, microscopes and binoculars equipped with photo capture systems, freezers (-20 to -80°). Various capture and trapping systems as well as RFID technology are available to monitor target organisms. Through collaboration with the ESE researchers (https://www6.rennes.inra.fr/ ese/), users will benefit from additional scientific equipment and expertise. Rennes is a university city located 1.5 hours by train from Paris (Airport and train station in Rennes). On Campus, visitors have access to individual apartments and cafeteria. Many hotels are also available in the close vicinity.

Support offered under AQUACOSM-plus: Users will have access to the different facilities described above. Including sampling and transport of organisms, monitoring, supply of environmental data and the opportunity to collaborate with the ESE team.

TA Modality of Access

Modality of access under AQUACOSM-plus: At least 240 person-days in total will be allocated to external users supported by an AQUACOSM TA activity. A minimum of 6 visiting scientists over 40 days for one year, anticipated between M22-M33, are welcome to join ongoing experiments.

TA Accommodation

Rennes mesocosm platform is located at AgroCampusOuest within the city of Rennes, a university city located 1.5 hours by train from Paris (Airport and train station in Rennes). On the campus, visitors have access to individual apartments, and many hotels are available in the vicinity of the campus.

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. - Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei
Müggelseedamm 301 and 310
12587 Berlin, Germany