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Nathalie R. Le François

Nathalie R. Le François
Nathalie R. Le François

Areas of research and expertise

  • Ecophysiology of sentinel fish species in northern environments (Salmonidae, Anarhichadidae, Gadidae).
  • Aquaculture/conservation.
  • Species diversification/selection. 


B.Sc. General Biology, 1991
Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) 

Ph.D. Oceanography, 1998
INRS Océanologie/UQAR 

About my work

Scientific advisor and researcher at the Biodôme since 2009, I am an oceanographer and fish ecophysiologist. Taking into account their physiological and behavioral responses, I am trying to understand how fish react to environmental constraints. I am recognized as an expert in special-status cold climate fish, i.e. exploited, domestic or threatened. By focusing my attention on a species, I try to understand its life cycle, its specific physiological needs (reproduction, nutrition, growth etc.), the effects of disruptive agents as well as how to better characterize its adaptability. Being able to keep them alive in optimal and controlled conditions allows me to deepen my knowledge, but also to have a concrete way to preserve the species through an approach inspired by aquaculture conservation. This is what I do for Anarhichadidae and the mackerel icefish, vulnerable and endangered fish families. For example, I study the links between their decline and climate change. The results of my studies can then help the authorities to make decisions regarding their protection, management or to support recovery programs. At the Biodôme, I am also working on the development of support systems for aquatic life and the development of seaweed culture. Finally, I am very interested in sustainable development and animal welfare as part of my experimental approach.

Why I love research

Passionate and eclectic, I have always been drawn to applied and concrete science. I feel comfortable when I am exploring and when the problem is well defined. In my job, I particularly enjoy the interinstitutional collaborations that I develop around the world and the contact with colleagues and students. My varied projects reflect the wide range of my interests for the aquatic environment, whether it is fresh water or salt water... They satisfy my curiosity as much as they contribute to provide some lines of thought and solutions to the problems that drive me.

Research projects

  • Effects of different oxygen concentrations on the growth and physiological condition of spotted wolffish (Anarhichas minor) (in collaboration with DFO).
  • Effects of density on growth and stress levels of spotted wolffish (A. minor) (in collaboration with UQAR/ U Bergen, Norway, and UNB).
  • Comparison of stress responses among Atlantic wolffish, spotted wolffish and hybrids (Coll. NEAq)
  • Production and viability of the Anarhichas minor × A. lupus hybrid: applications in aquaculture and conservation; growth and mitochondrial functionality (in collaboration with UQAR/Nofima A/S, Norway).
  • Characterization of the synthesis of antifreeze proteins in parental species and reciprocal hybrids of Anarhichas minor and A. lupus (in collaboration with MUN).
  • Establishment of a growth curve for spotted wolfish in commercial conditions (in collaboration with MAPAQ, SODIM, DFO, Akvaplan-Niva and UQAR).
  • Creation of a Quebec research program targeting aquaculture and the conservation of lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) (NSERC, ACRDP, IPSFAD) (Coll. U Laval, UNB)

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