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About ISEM

ISEM at a glance

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ISEM is a research institute that has been developing research on the origin and dynamics of biodiversity for more than 40 years.

The Institute of Evolutionary Science of Montpellier (ISEM – joint research unit 5554) has been focusing research for over 40 years on biodiversity origins and dynamics and the associated evolutionary mechanisms and processes. Field, experimental and theoretical research on fundamental evolutionary biology issues concerns both current and past biodiversity while encompassing a broad range of organisms and environments. This fundamental research dovetails with applied and predictive research on a major 21st century scientific and social issue in interaction with the humanities, medicine and society — to what extent is biodiversity able to cope with global change?

ISEM — stemming from its long and rich history — currently hosts a staff of over 250 agents from 6 French research institutions: the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the University of Montpellier (UM), the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP).

ISEM activities are structured around several highly committed research departments and teams, as well as support and technical services.

Worklife at ISEM

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ISEM pursues a proactive policy in terms of gender parity, scientific integrity, open science and management of biological resources ...

ISEM has opted for a collegial form of management and governance, a sustainable incentive-based budget policy with ongoing support of staff (permanent or not) and students. ISEM offers a dynamic, collaborative and friendly working environment conducive to sound top-notch research.

ISEM is highly attentive to ethical concerns while pursuing a proactive policy of gender parity, scientific integrity, open science, biological resource and animal welfare management. The current overall men-to-women staff ratio is 1.4 but has reached parity for senior staff positions. ISEM also aims to develop a publication strategy geared towards open access journals and academic publishers. Moreover, ISEM is striving to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impacts of its activities to ensure its sustainable development.

ISEM’s staff is young, dynamic and committed, thereby reflecting the institute’s allure to young talented researchers. ISEM endeavours to offer a lively productive doctoral research setting by hosting and highly supporting a large number of trainees and doctoral candidates.

Core activities

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Conducting leading-edge basic and applied evolutionary biology, ecology and biodiversity research.

Education & training

Training future generations of researchers, lecturers, teachers and specialists in the fields of evolutionary biology, ecology and biodiversity science.


Contributing to educational initiatives and the dissemination of scientific and technical culture for all audiences.

Knowledge transfer & partnership

Promoting knowledge transfer and partnerships with stakeholders from the socioeconomic community and the Global South.

ISEM global network

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Institutional network

ISEM is affiliated with various scientific departments or institutes of its parent bodies (UM: B3ESTE; CNRS: INEE, INSU, INSHS, INS2I, INSB; IRD: EcoBio; EPHE: SVT; Cirad: PerSyst), while also being involved in other local/national structures (LabEx CeMEB, LabEx CEBA, the Agronomy-Environment-Biodiversity research department of the MUSE I-SITE, OSU OREME, Occitanie region BiodivOC and RIVOC schemes, GDRs, FRB, sfe2).

Main collaborations in France

The many collaborations underway with other research units in Montpellier and elsewhere in France contribute to strengthening and structuring biodiversity science research while providing gateways for interaction with other disciplines.


ISEM collaborates widely with foreign research colleagues and institutions while coordinating several international research programmes (BIOPOLIS, LIA, GDRI, SEEG, bipartite and tripartite agreements). Its international activities also encompass many field missions and research postings in countries of the Global South.