Earth Sciences and Astronomy Observatory: OSU Rennes, France (OSUR)

Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Rennes
Earth Science and Astronomy Observatory: OSU Rennes, France (OSUR)


The 3 missions of OSUR

• Associated with the University of Rennes 1, OSUR is entrusted with a training mission in the field of Earth sciences, ecology and environment
• OSUR facilitates and coordinates environmental research, working with 6 laboratories in this field in the scientific center of Rennes.
• As a member of the French national network of Observatoires des sciences de l’Univers (Earth Science and Astronomy Observatories: CNRS-INSU), OSUR designs and oversees long-term observation of planetary and socioecological systems.

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Multi-and inter-disciplinary skills

• OSUR is made up of approximately 700 people organized in 6 divisions (see below). Fundamentally multidisciplinary, OSUR brings together nationally and internationally recognized ecologists, geologists, geographers and archeologists. In addition to research staff, OSUR employs approximately 250 other employees. Altogether, nearly 1000 researchers, teachers, doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, technical engineers and administrative staff work under the umbrella of OSUR.
• One of OSUR’s key research objectives is to understand human influence on the sustainability of socioecological systems..

Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Rennes, Université de Rennes 1, Campus de Beaulieu, bât. 15, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France.
Tel. : 00 33 (0)2 23 23 60 75



A multidisciplinary scientific community

OSUR is made up of 5 research laboratories or teams and one mixed service unit (UMS) associated with OSUR. Altogether, it houses approximately 700 full-time employees, doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. The research teams are:
• LETG-Rennes-Costel (Climate and Soil Occupation by Remote Sensing) UMR 6554 (CNRS, University of Rennes 2)

The impact of land use changes on climate (deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia)

• CReAAH (Research Centre in Archeology, Archeo-sciences and History) UMR 6566 (CNRS, University of Rennes 1, University of Rennes 2, University of Nantes, University of Maine, INRAP and Ministry of Culture)


Archeological digs at the Gaul site of Port-Blanc (Hoedic island, Morbihan, Brittany, France)

ECOBIO (Ecosystems, Biodiversity, Evolution) UMR 6553 (CNRS, University of Rennes 1)

Experimental study on cloned species cultivated in a controlled environment (Beaulieu campus, Rennes)

Geosciences Rennes UMR 6118 (CNRS, University of Rennes 1)

Interaction of sedimentary, hydraulic and vegetation controls on transport in an alluvial river (New Zealand)

IPR (Institute of Physics, Rennes) UMR 6251 (CNRS, University of Rennes 1)

Dynamics of channel blocking by micron-particles

• UMS 3343 of the Observatory of Rennes (CNRS, University of Rennes 1)

OSUR is also associated with other teams from various scientific fields through official convention or partnership. These fields include hydrology, soil science, agronomy, ecology, law, electronics and information technology. This larger OSUR community includes an additional 250 full-time employees in the following groups:
The AgroEco-TerMer of INRA / AGROCAMPUS OUESTcentre which is made up of:
• UMR 1069 – SAS (Soil, Agro- and Hydro-systems, Spatialization)
• UMR 0985 – ESE (Ecology and Health of Ecosystems)
• UR 0980 – SAD Landscapes
• UE 1036 – U3E (Experimental Unit of Ecology and Ecotoxicology)


Landscape dynamics: a multi-and inter-disciplinary approach

A landscape is a complex system defined by geographic extent. Landscape functioning is determined by dynamic interactions between abiotic elements (geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere), biotic elements (biosphere) and human societies.
Today, landscape dynamics are at the center of major environmental issues due to the magnitude and speed of current changes. These changes are linked to “global changes” (climate change, land use change, erosion, pollution etc.) and they have consequences, especially in terms of loss of biodiversity, degradation of ecosystem services and decreased access to resources for human populations.
OSUR seeks to resolve these issues through a multidisciplinary approach at the crossroads of physical, life and human sciences.
Examples of multidisciplinary research conducted in OSUR on landscape dynamics include:
- Vulnerability of groundwater aquifers to pollution in agricultural and urban landscapes
- Establishment of ecological corridors (green and blue open systems) for biodiversity in agricultural landscapes
- Impact of changes of land use on water and soil quality
- Impact of climate change on landscape dynamics in western France


Long-term missions

One of the central advantages of a stable and distributed OSU system is the maintenance of long-term observational and experimental research. OSUs are entrusted with specific national missions to provide continuity of services in observation and experimentation of natural environments of the planet. At OSUR, the mission focuses on resources (water, biodiversity, soils, minerals) and systemic approaches (watersheds, islands) in continental ecosystems.
OSUR and its partners (INRA) are responsible for certifying these systems on a national level. To this end, OSUR maintains the following long-term research sites:

- The Armorique LTER-France of the CNRS-INEE

Landscape ecology (use, transfers, biodiversity) from Pleine-Fougères (Mont Saint Michel) to Rennes

- H The National Network of hydrogeological sites of the CNRS-INSU

Aquifer hydrology of Ploemeur (Morbihan, France), S.E.H. site of the University of Poitiers, CEA centre of Cadarache, Campos site (Majorca, Spain)

- The Antarctic and subarctic LTER-France of the CNRS-INEE


Environment of French southern and Antarctic lands, Terre Adélie, the Saint Paul islands and Amsterdam, the Crozet archipelago and the Kerguelan islands

The Observatory is also a partner of several national structures

- The Agro-HydroSystem (AgrHyS) of the INRA

Agro-hydrology, watersheds of Kervidy-Naizin (Morbihan, France) and of Kerrien-Kerbernez (Finistère, France)

- The volcanologic national service of the CNRS-INSU

Geophysics (tomography) Volcan de La Soufrière (Guadeloupe,  French Antilles)

- The National GPS Network (RENAG) of the CNRS-INSU

French Geodesic National GPS Network


Effective instrumental and analytical means

To carry out its research, OSUR maintains:
• a Common Analytical Centrewhich coordinates a score of chemical technical platforms shared by the 6 research units
• an Environmental and Human Genomic platform, with the backing of the CNRS-INEE and the BioGenOuest network approved IBISA label
• an advanced numerical modelling platform:LOVE – Virtual Observatory in Environment
• a LIDAR platform: Nantes-Rennes topo-bathymetry
• a dating platform in hydrology –CONDATE Eau
• a data management service



Courses linked to our research skills and suited to socio-economic needs

• OSUR offers degrees in planetary and environmental sciences, through the University of Rennes 1. Specifically we offer one Bachelor’s degree (Earth Sciences) and four Masters’ degrees (Earth, Planetary and Environmental Sciences; Biodiversity-Ecology-Evolution; Water Sciences; and Biogeosciences), with ministerial approval. Two of these degrees are co-led with Agrocampus Ouest.
• The Observatory is also involved in continuing and lifelong education via the numeric campus ENVAM (Environment and Planning) and the training of doctoral students in the Doctoral Schools (which are being restructured) in the UBL (University of Brittany and Loire).



Sharing science!

The Observatory of Rennes has a multiCOM service at its disposal, which aims to:
• coordinate all the outreach activities offered at public events
• develop partnerships with scientific culture societies (CCSTI Espace des sciences, Petits Débrouillards, etc.)
• collaborate with National education in order to create pedagogical projects and exchanges between pupils and researchers
• promote the national and international profile of OSUR and its standing and skills

Through these events and through its participation in numerous evaluation and skill structures, OSUR interacts and collaborates with the larger society.


English version:
Thanks to Caragh Kingston and Ben Abbott

OSUR contact
Alain-Hervé Le Gall (communication) / @