Christine  Meynard

Research Assistant Professor

Email: [[cnmeynard]]
Phone: 804-684-7365
Office: Andrews Hall 130
Department: Biological Science

Curriculum Vitae


Google Scholar

  • Undergraduate studies in Biology, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • Professional degree in management of natural resources, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
  • Ph.D., Ecology, with emphasis in conservation biology. University of California, Davis
Areas of Interest

My research can be framed within the broad disciplines of macroecology and community ecology. I am generally interested in understanding and modeling species distributions and patterns of biodiversity including species richness but also phylogenetic (i.e. diversity in the evolutionary history contained in a community) and functional (i.e. diversity in life history traits and ecological characteristics of species within a community) diversity. I think that using a multi-facetted view of biodiversity can help us link theory and practice in a more effective way than simply looking at species richness. This is a necessary step in predicting potential effects of climate change and invasive species on the future of biodiversity, which is one of my motivations. Spatial analyses and patterns of species co-occurrence are also fundamental to tease apart the different potential mechanisms behind diversity patterns at different spatial scales. Scales of study go from metacommunities (i.e. several communities potentially connected through dispersal) to continents, to global. I am not particularly attached to one taxon or geographic region, but rather to the idea of identifying common mechanisms, patterns or analysis strategies that can be broadly applied to different ecological systems. As such, I have a fairly international network of collaborators, including leading researchers in France, Chile, the USA, and South Africa among others. However, I will be starting my faculty position at VIMS  very soon, so I will be focusing on marine and coastal research. Prospective students should therefore have an interest in coastal or marine systems. 


Highlights of some of the projects I have worked on (although not an exhaustive list). All of my research has different elements related to spatial ecology, metacommunity theory, diversity distribution, and phylogenetic and functional diversity. However I classed them below according to the domi0nant elements in each.

Species distribution modeling

Model performance and marine mammals conservation

I am currently participating in a project called MORSE: "Management of Ocean Resources under Shifting Expectations: bringing the historical perspective into marine mammal conservation". In the context of this project we will be using historical and current distribution data (mainly for whales) to look at methodological questions in species distribution modelling. For example, some of the datasets have lots of records, including presence and absence data. This is unusual in ecological studies, so we will look at how degrading the datasets (by decreasing number of records and using presence-only data) can change the resulting species distribution estimates. The marine mammals’ data will be complemented with other large datasets (including tuna fisheries data) to address different aspects of the modelling process and their effects on results. This work complements previous simulation work where we showed that the types of species responses to the relevant environmental gradients can affect model classification success rates in significant ways (see Meynard & Kaplan 2012, 2013), so we will complement these results with simulations of virtual species to better understand the behavior of the different modelling strategies. This project also involves a more general diversity aspect, including functional and phylogenetic diversity of marine mammals globally, which are going to be addressed by using distribution maps along with a functional database and a phylogeny of marine mammals.

Modeling global species distributions of spider mites under current and future climates.

This was a small project that I directed from 2011 to 2012 in collaboration with Maria Navajas and Alain Migeon at the CBGP, and with Warren Porter at the University of Wisconsin. Spider mites are small arthropods that affect several important cultures worldwide, with at least two species that have invaded large areas and have been classified among the worse agricultural pests: Tetranychus evansi and Tetranychus urticae. During this project we collected occurrence records for 15 species and used species distribution modeling to predict both current potential ranges as well as potential ranges expected under climate change scenarios. One of my students, Rémi Genevest, also applied a mechanistic modeling strategy starting from biophysical principles and using NicheMapper (a program developed by Dr. Warren Porter) and Climex (a commercial physiologically-based model) to compare results between both types of approaches. All types of models produce similar results, with current threats been concentrated in tropical and sub-tropical areas but moving towards more temperate regions under scenarios of climate change from here to 2080. More interestingly, we showed that uncertainty coming from different sources is not distributed randomly in space, so that we can identify areas where model predictions are more certain than others and areas where further field studies would be required.

Species distributions and local richness patterns: from simulations with artificial species to conservation planning for birds of the Chilean forests

This was my thesis project (2003-2006), which I funded mostly through a Rufford Small Grant for Nature Conservation and several small UCDavis research grants for graduate students. As the title indicates, the project incorporated species distribution modeling of birds of the temperate forests of southern Chile. During this period I carried out extensive vegetation and bird surveys in several protected areas in Chile. However, in order to understand which models would be the most appropriate under different circumstances, I started with a simulation study where I used artificial species to compare different modeling strategies. I have used, later on, this simulation strategy to test different aspects of model performance, and the simulation strategy itself was also the subject of a Guest Editorial in the Journal of Biogeography appeared in January 2013. Once distribution maps for each bird species were built, they were used to identify priority areas for conservation within temperate forests in southern Chile by the use of an optimization algorithm (maximization of conservation goals and minimization of total area required), setting minimal area conservation goals for bird species as well as for forest types through a systematic conservation planning approach. On the other hand, bird community data and vegetation data were used to understand the link between bird diversity, habitat vegetation structure and climate within a metacommunity framework.

Phylogenetic and functional diversity within community ecology

Incorporating phylogenetic and functional information to understand species assemblages in the Mediterranean Sea.

This was a postdoctoral project funded through the Université de Montpellier 2 (2007-2008) and that I carried out in collaboration with Nicolas Mouquet, David Mouillot and Emmanuel Douzery (all at the UM2). The project consisted mostly in incorporating phylogenetic and functional diversity into the mapping of diversity of fish in the Mediterranean Sea. The project was obviously too ambitious for just one year of research, as we actually needed to build the phylogeny of the species involved as well as the species traits database. However this project was followed up by several extensions, and a similar project using bird data in France in close collaboration with Vincent Devictor (FABIO project). Then I moved on to a different postdoc in the same topic within a project led by Wilfried Thuiller (Diversitalp project) and using alpine plant data to address the same types of questions. Within these three projects we developed community simulations to ask whether or not the use of phylogenetic and functional diversity could help link metacommunity theory to empirical diversity patterns. We also applied the same type of analysis within French birds, Mediterranean fish, and alpine plant communities, and organized a large workshop and seminar series that resulted in a review paper publish in Biological Reviews regarding recent advances in ecophylogenetics.

Diversity and conservation

Bats of the Chilean temperate rainforest: elucidating patterns of landscape occurrence and use in a mosaic of land-use types within a South American biodiversity hotspot.

This was a project funded by an exploration grant from the National Geographic that I led in collaboration with Winifred Frick (University of California, Santa Cruz), Paul Heady (Bat research group, California) and Mauricio Soto-Gamboa (Universidad Austral de Chile) between 2009 and 2010 to study bat diversity. The goal of this study was to actually compare bat communities between native temperate forests and nearby eucalyptus plantations. Because a large part of the native forests in the area have been replaced with pine or eucalyptus plantations, we thought that this question would be very important for species that cannot dwell on plantations.



  • Monsarrat, S., Pennino, M. G., Smith, T. D., Reeves, R. R., Meynard, C. N., Kaplan, D. M. & A. S. L. Rodrigues. Early View. A spatially explicit estimate of the pre-whaling abundance of the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Conservation Biology, DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12664

  • Veran, S., Piry, S., Ternois, V., Meynard, C.N., Facon, B. & A. Estoup. Early View. Modeling spatial expansion of invasive species: relative contributions of environmental and anthropogenic factors to the diffusion of the harlequin ladybird in France. Ecography. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01389/epdf

  • Leroy, B., Meynard, C.N., Bellard, C. & F. Courchamp. Early View. virtualspecies, an R package to generate virtual species distributions. Ecography, DOI:10.1111/ecog.01388


  • Albouy, C., Lasram, F. B. R., Guilhaumon, F., Velez, L., Meynard, C.N., Severine Boyer, S., Benestan, L., Mouquet, N., Douzery, E., Aznard, R., Troussellier, M., Somot, S., Leprieur, F., Le Loc’h F. & D. Mouillot (2015) FishMed: traits, phylogeny, current and projected species distribution of Mediterranean fishes, and environmental data. Ecology 96:2312–2313.
  • Latinne, A., Meynard, C. N., Herbreteau, V., Morand, S., Waengsothorn, S. & J. R. Michaux. (2015) Influence of past and future climate changes on the distribution of three Southeast Asian murine rodents. Journal of Biogeography, 42: 1714-1726. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12528.
  • Monsarrat, S., Pennino, M.G., Smith, T.D., Reeves, R.R., Meynard, C.N., Kaplan, D.M., & A.S.L. Rodrigues. (2015) Historical summer distribution of the endangered North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis): a hypothesis based on environmental preferences of a congeneric species. Diversity & Distributions 21: 925-937. DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12314
  • Albouy, C., Leprieur, F., Le Loc’h, F., Mouquet, N., Meynard, C.N., Douzery, E.J.P. & D. Mouillot (2015) Projected impacts of climate warming on the functional and phylogenetic components of coastal Mediterranean fish biodiversity. Ecography, 38: 681-689. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01254
  • Granger, V., Bez, N., Fromentin, J.M., Meynard, C.N., Jadaud, A. & B. Mérigot (2015) Mapping diversity indices: not a trivial issue. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6: 688-696. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12357
  • Granger, V., Fromentin, J. M., Bez, N., Relini, G., Meynard, C. N., Gaertner, J. C., Maiorano, P., Garcia Ruiz, C., Follesa, C., Gristina, M., Peristeraki, P., Brind’Amour, A., Carbonara, P., Charilaou,C., Esteban, A., Jadaud, A., Joksimovic, A., Kallianiotis, A., Kolitari, J., Manfredi, C., Massuti, E., Mifsud, R., Quetglas, T., Refes, W., Sbrana, M., Vrgoc, N., Spedicato, M. T. & B. Mérigot. (2015) Large spatio-temporal monitoring highlights shift in Mediterranean fish diversity hotspots. Progress in Oceanography 130: 65-74. DOI: 10.1016/j.pocean.2014.10.002
  • Guilhaumon, F., Albouy, C., Claudet, J., Velez, L., Ben Rais Lasram, F., Tomasini, J.A., Douzery, E.J.P., Meynard, C.N., Mouquet, N., Araújo, M.B. & D. Mouillot (2015) Representing taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional diversity : new challenges for Mediterranean marine protected areas. Diversity & Distributions, 21: 175-187. DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12280
  • Dufour, C. M. S., Meynard, C. N., Watson, J., Rioux, C., Benhamou, S., Perez, J., du Plessis, J. J., Avenant, N., Pillay, N. & G. Ganem (2015) Habitat selection and character displacement both shape spatial niche of co-occurring sister species. PlosOne 10: e0117750. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117750


  • Meynard, C. N., Soto-Gamboa, M., Heady III, P. A., & W. F. Frick. (2014) Bats of the Chilean temperate rainforest: patterns of landscape use in a mosaic of native forests, eucalyptus plantations and grasslands within a South American biodiversity hotspot. Biodiversity & Conservation 23: 1949-1963. DOI: 10.1007/s10531-014-0697-3
  • Monnet, A. C., Jiguet F., Meynard C. N., Mouillot D., Mouquet N., Thuiller W., Devictor V. (2014) Asynchrony of taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity in birds. Global Ecology and Biogeography 23: 780-788. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12179


  • Meynard, C.N., A. Migeon & M. Navajas. (2013) Uncertainties in predicting species distributions under climate change: a case study using Tetranychus evansi (Acari: Tetranychidae). PLoS ONE 8: e66445. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066445.
  • Meynard C. N., Lavergne S., Boulangeat I., Garraud L., Van Es J., Mouquet N., and Thuiller W. (2013). Disentangling the drivers of metacommunity structure across spatial scales. Journal of Biogeography 40: 1560-1571. doi: 10.1111/jbi.12116
  • Moritz C., Meynard C.N., Devictor V., Guizien K., Labrune C., Guarini J.-M., Mouquet N. (2013) Disentangling the role of connectivity, the environment, and spatial structure in a marine metacommunity. Oikos 122: 1401-1410. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2013.00377.x
  • Meynard, C. N. & D. M. Kaplan (2013) Guest Editorial: Using virtual species to study species distributions and model performance. Journal of Biogeography 40: 1-8. DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12006


  • Meynard, C.N., Mouillot D., Mouquet N., Douzery E.J.P. (2012) A Phylogenetic Perspective on the Evolution of Mediterranean Teleost Fishes. PLoS ONE 7: e36443.
  • Meynard, C. N., Pillay, N., Perrigault, M., Caminade, P., Ganem, G. (2012) Assessment of environmental differentiation in the striped mouse (Rhabdomys sp.) over southern Africa: the influence of past climate change on current distributions. Ecology & Evolution 2: 1008-1023.
  • Mouquet, N.*, Devictor, V.*, Meynard, C. N.*, Munoz, F.*, Bersier, L. F., Chave, J., Couteron, P., Dalecky, A., Fontaine, C., Gravel, D., Hardy, O. J., Jabot, F., Lavergne, S., Leibold, M., Mouillot, D., Münkemüller, T., Pavoine, S., Prinzing, A., Rodrigues, A. S. L., Rohr, R. P., Thébault, E. & Thuiller, W. (2012) Ecophylogenetics: advances and perspectives. Biological Reviews 87: 769-785. *First four authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
  • Ganem, G., Meynard, C. N., Perrigault, M., Lancaster, J., Edwards, S., Caminade, P., Watson, J. & Pillay, N. (2012) Presence of three mitochondrial lineages of striped mice (Rhabdomys) in the Free-State (South Africa): factors that may promote their co-occurrence.Acta Oecologica 42: 30-40.
  • Münkemüller, T., de Bello, F., Meynard, C.N., Gravel, D., Lavergne, S., Mouillot, D., Mouquet, N. & Thuiller, W. (2012) From diversity indices to community assembly processes. Ecography, 35: 468-480.
  • Meynard, C. N. & D. M. Kaplan (2012) The effect of a gradual response to the environment on species distribution modeling performance. Ecography 35: 499-509.


  • Mouillot D., Albouy C., Guilhaumon F., Ben Rais Lasram F., Coll M., DeVictor V., Douzery E., Meynard C. N., Pauly D., Troussellier M., Velez L., Watson R. & N. Mouquet (2011) Protected and threatened components of fish biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea. Current Biology 21: 1044-1050.
  • Meynard, C. N., V. Devictor, D. Mouillot, W. Thuiller, F. Jiguet & N. Mouquet (2011) Beyond taxonomic diversity patterns: how do α, β and γ components of bird functional and phylogenetic diversity respond to environmental gradients across France? Global Ecology and Biogeography 20: 893-903.


  • Devictor, V., D. Mouillot, C. Meynard, F. Jiguet, W. Thuiller & N. Mouquet (2010) Spatial mismatch between taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional biodiversity facets challenges conservation strategies. Ecology Letters 13: 1030-1040.
  • Venail, P. A., R. C. Maclean, M. E. Hochberg, C. N. Meynard & N. Mouquet (2010) Scaling up the diversity-productivity relationship in an experimental source-sink metacommunity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 277: 2339-2345.
  • de Bello, F., S. Lavergne, C. N. Meynard, J. Leps& W. Thuiller (2010) The spatial partitioning of diversity: showing Theseus a way out of the labyrinth. Journal of Vegetation Science 21: 992-1000.
  • Zurell, D., U. Berger, J. S. Cabral, J. Calabrese, F. Jeltsch, C. N. Meynard, T. Münkemüller, N. Nehrbass, J. Pagel, B. Reineking, B. Schröder & V. Grimm (2010) The Virtual Ecologist approach: simulating data and observers. Oikos 119: 622-635.


  • Meynard, C. N., C. Howell & J. F. Quinn (2009) Comparing alternative systematic conservation planning strategies against a politically driven conservation plan. Biodiversity & Conservation 18: 3061-3083.
  • Sepúlveda, M. A., J. L. Bartheld, C. N. Meynard, M. Benavides, C. Astorga, D. Parra & G. Medina-Vogel (2009) Landscape features and crustacean prey as predictors of the Southern river otter (Lontra provocax) distribution in Chile. Animal Conservation 12: 522-530.

2008 and before

  • Meynard, C. N. & J. F. Quinn (2008) Bird metacommunities in the temperate forests of South America: direct and indirect effects of vegetation structure, area and climate. Ecology 89: 981-990.
  • Meynard, C. N. & J. F. Quinn (2007) Predicting species distributions: a critical comparison of the most common statistical models. Journal of Biogeography 34: 1455-1469.
  • Meynard, C. N., A. Lara, M. Pino, D. Soto, L. Nahuelhual, D. Núñez, C. Echeverría, C. Jara, C. Oyarzún, M. Jiménez, & F. Morey. (2007) Integrando ciencia, economía y sociedad: servicios ecosistémicos en la ecoregión de bosques lluviosos valdivianos. Gaceta Ecológica de México 84-85: 29-38.
  • Meynard, C. & A. M. Venegas (2005) Avifauna en un bosque de Roble-Hualo en Chile Central. Boletín de Ornitólogos de Chile 11: 18-21.
  • Meynard, C., Samaniego, H. & P. A. Marquet (2004) Biogeography of Chilean raptors. Book chapter in Aves Rapaces de Chile. Andrés Muñoz-Pedreros, Jaime Rau & José Yánez Editors, CEA Ediciones, Chile. pp. 129-143.
  • Reid, S., Cornelius, C., Barbosa, O., Meynard, C., Silva, C., & P.A. Marquet. (2002) Conservation of temperate forest birds in Chile: implications from the study of an isolated forest relict. Biodiversity & Conservation 11: 1975-1990.
  • Meynard, C. & Hajek, E., (1999) Pobreza y Medio Ambiente en América Latina. Persona y Sociedad, Volúmen XIII (1): 185-199.
  • Meynard, C. N., Sabat, P., López-Calleja, M. V. & F. Bozinovic (1999) Digestive enzymes of a small avian herbivore, the rufous-tailed plantcutter. The Condor 101: 904-907.
Graduate Students
2014 Valentine Delattre (master2), student in the biodiversity and evolution program, emphasis on ecosystems, Université de Montpellier 2. Functional diversity loss among marine mammals under different scenarios of extinction.
2013 Paula Iturralde (master 2), student at Université de Tours in a program on behavioral biology, evolution and biodiversity. Assessing Climate Change impact in the distribution of mammals of Ecuador.
2013 Valentine Delattre (master1), student in the biodiversity and evolution program, emphasis on ecosystems, Université de Montpellier 2. Defining functional groups of marine mammals.
2012-2013 Bastien Louboutin (master 2), student in an ecology and biodiversity program, Université de Montpellier 2. Defining typical species for Natura 2000 habitats: a case study in Languedoc-Roussillon using grasshoppers, butterflies and dragonflies.
2011-2012 Andrea Murillo (master 2), ERASMUS student (European program including several universities and countries) in a program of evolution and ecology. Intraspecific relationship between probability of occurrence and abundance patterns.
2012 Annabelle Sueur (master 2), student at the Université de la Loire on a bioinformatics program. Incorporating phylogenetic and functional diversity into systematic conservation planning: does it really change the results?
2012 Rémi Genevest (master 2), student at the Ecole Agronomique de Toulouse. Mechanistic species distribution models for Tetranychidae: potential effects of climate change and evolution on species distributions.
2009 Manon Perrigault (master 2), student at Université de Montpellier II in a program of ecology and biodiversity management. Description of the environmental niche of the African striped mouse at two spatial scales: within sub-Saharan Africa and within the Republic of South Africa.
2008 Gwénaelle Delaruelle (licence 3), student in a biological undergraduate program at the Université de Montpellier II. Using geographic information systems (GIS) in the study of Teleost distribution and conservation in the Mediterranean Sea.
2007 Carlos Lara, student at a marine biology undergraduate program at the Universidad Austral de Chile. Macrophyte vegetation cover in the Valdivia river estuary: a multi-temporal analysis using satellite images.
Honors and awards

Postdoctoral fellowship, région de l’Hérault

Postdoctoral fellowship on a competitive basis, Université de Montpellier II, under the supervision of Dr. Nicolas Mouquet & Dr. David Mouillot.

2005-2006  Dissertation year fellowship
University of California, Davis. This is a highly competitive fellowship, with only two fellowships given each year for PhD students of all disciplines at UC Davis.
2002-2005 Block Grant
University of California, Davis.
2002-2006 Non-resident tuition fee fellowship
University of California, Davis.
2001-2003 Fulbright fellowship
Competitive fellowship sponsored by the US government.
1998 State University of New York, Plattsburgh
Student exchange fellowship.
1995 & 1997 Matrícula de honor, P. Universidad Católica de Chile.
Fellowship given to the best student in each cohort.
Prospective Students

Prospective undergraduate students are encouraged to contact me via e-mail to see the potential for their participation in ongoing projects and/or the definition of a new independent research in accordance with their personal interests.

For prospective graduate students, email contact is also desirable before application. Please contact me through e-mail sending me a letter of motivation, a CV, and the names and contact information for at least 3 professional references. In general I like to learn from my graduate students as much as guiding them through the learning process. I think graduate students should be independent and inquisitive, and mostly excited about what they do. I encourage independence and a balanced professional/personal life as a key to success. Going into graduate school is an important (and long) phase in your scientific career, so choosing who you want to work with is just as important as defining your interests. I do not expect graduate students to come with a very well defined idea of their research project, but I do like to see a sense of purpose. Do you like what you do? Why? What are the elements of a research project that excite you the most? Do you see yourself as a theoretician or as an applied scientist? These are some of the questions you may want to ask yourself before engaging into graduate school and before choosing your graduate program and advisor. There are many forums and articles you can find online regarding these issues and I encourage you to make a search and reflect carefully on these issues before engaging in this adventure.

In more concrete terms, prospective students in my lab should be comfortable learning multivariate statistics, R and GIS. Research interests should be compatible with my own (see publication list for example), including interests in diversity patterns at intermediate to large scales, whether it be from ecological communities, invasion biology, or macroecology/biogeography perspectives, as well as applied conservation at large scales. This could include interests in theoretical ecology involving a combination of modeling and experimental/field work, and/or applied work related to conservation, climate change and invasion biology (where GIS and statistics are also important). The student should be inclined to learn more or less complex spatial and temporal statistical analyses, to tease out the effects of environmental change or invasive species in native communities and potentially predict into future climate change scenarios.