Presentation of the ExplorEcoLab project

The ExplorEcoLab project is an experimental study on the effects of climate change on the relationship of butterflies – host plants – ants.

The objectives of this study are the following :

  • Recreate the relationship between the life cycles of butterflies, their host plants and ants in an enclosed environment,
  • Control climate and environmental to study the determinants factors of this relationship,
  • Apply different climate scenarios to study the possible future impacts of climate change on these species.

Choice of species

The studied species selected according to different criteria are the following:

  • butterfly Polyommatus icarus
Polyommatus icarus © F. Mallard
  • host plants of Polyommatus icarus : Trifolium repens, Lotus corniculatus
Lotus corniculatus © F. Mallard
Trifolium repens © F. Mallard
  • ants Lasius niger
Lasius niger © F. Mallard


In the laboratory, the lepidopteran-ant host symbiosis relationship is reproduced in a stable closed ecosystem called ExplorEcolab.

The laboratory of ExplorEcolab © F. Mallard


Experience 1 : Reproduce the lepidopteran-host plants-ants relationship in a closed environment

Development of host plants of Polyommatus icarus © F. Mallard

Experience 2 : Different climate change scenarios are applied in the ExplorEcolab laboratory. Different parameters are measured and analyzed to better understand the climate-symbiosis relationship.