Yolan Richard



Assistant Ingénieur / Ingénieur d’étude CNRS



Can we use urban area as a potential habitat for European hamsters (Cricetus cricetus) as a solution for protecting the species ? (PI : O. Petit and C. Weber)

The European hamster (Cricetus cricetus) is the last hamster’s species living naturally and it has been recently recognized as an “umbrella species”. However in the last seven decades, urban sprawl, direct destruction and cultivation practices sharply damaged its habitat and reduced its population, pushing it to the edge of extinction in Alsace. Within the framework Axis 3 of the Life+ ALISTER program (European Hamster conservation program : “creating new opportunity for the development of the species”), our research aims to assess how the hamster can adapt to the periurban areas. The goal is to examine the potential of this environment as a tool for the conservation of the species (ecological corridor, source population implantation).

We conducted a first series of experiments under controlled conditions to study the impact of nocturnal light pollution (emitted by streetlights of suburban parks) on the behavior, physiology and reproduction of this species. I supervised this experiment, the establishment of new protocols, the student coordination, the data collection (physiological measures, video analyses) and analyses (hormonal analyses and statistics), and am currently involved in the publication of the results.

Together with Odile Petit, I also developed and managed a second series of experiments, carried out in situ. The aim is to develop and implement new protocols for the establishment of future wild living Hamster populations in peri-urban environments, and advise on public policy. This project also involved field work and coordination with local/regional/national actors, data analysis and publications, and communication about the project (meetings, press, communication media, etc.).

This project should lead to the publication of a recommendations’ guide (written by A. Flamand) on the use of peri-urban environment for the conservation of the European hamster

Funding : Life + ALISTER