USE equipe

USE index

Marie Curie Fellow, IEF, Inter-European Fellowship, People Program FP7


Service d'Ecologie Sociale (Unit of Social Ecology, USE)
ULB CP 231
  Campus de la Plaine
  Bd du Triomphe
  B-1050 Bruxelles

E-mail: manuela.capello
Tel: 02.650.59.07 (from abroad +32.2.650.59.07)
Fax: 02.650.59.87 (from abroad +32.2.650.59.87)


Research themes





My main research area concerns the study of collective phenomena, self-organization and non-linear systems, applied to problems of fisheries science.

I have a background in statistical physics and strongly correlated systems, applied to different disciplines, from Physics to Biology. I first applied these skills in condensed matter problems, studying the emergence of collective states of matter like high-temperature superconductivity, superfluidity and magnetism.
My current research field concerns the study of collective phenomena and the characterization of interactions in pelagic marine ecosystems, to the purpose of obtaining abundance indices and evaluating the impacts of pelagic fisheries.

My research focuses on quantifying intra- and inter-specific interactions, as well as their role in the fish response to the fishing gear. I conduct my analyses based on acoustic and satellite telemetry data collected for different pelagic species, from small-pelagic fish to tropical tuna and sharks. Staring from these data, I construct field-based models of fish movement and behavior in interaction with its congeners, the other species and the environment.

My work focuses on evaluating the impacts of two main fishing techniques: purse-seine fisheries and pelagic longlines. In particular, I exploit tagging and observer’s data from purse seine fisheries in the Indian Ocean, with particular attention to those using FAD (Fish Aggregating Devices). Concerning longline fisheries, I mainly focus on the scientific data collected on board of instrumented longline vessels equipped with hook timers and temperature depth recorders.

Finally, I am currently working on laboratory experiments on zebrafish, using it as a model for studying the role of congeners and spatial heterogeneities in the spatial distribution of fish in a controlled environment.

Marie Curie Project



Project QUAESITUM (Quantifying environmental and social interactions for tuna fisheries management) EU Grant IEF - People programme FP7.

Despite the social and economic importance of fisheries, quantitative approaches capable of predicting the spatial distributions of different fish species and their variations with respect to human activities are still missing. Recently, new proposals for an ecosystem-based fisheries management raised remarkable interests in the scientific community. These approaches demand answering fundamental questions on fish behaviour in the presence of social and environmental stimuli, as well as interconnections among different fish species. This project will address some of these questions, aiming at quantifying the respective roles of environmental and social interactions in the spatial distribution of tuna, a topical issue for fisheries management due to the overexploitation of this species. We will base our analysis on acoustic data collected around Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs), a fishing gear employed worldwide in tuna fisheries. We will consider the role played by both intra- and inter-specific interactions to the tuna spatial distribution around FADs. This will require the development of dedicated analytical and modelling tools, capable of deducing social interactions from the experimental data. A multi-and inter-disciplinary approach will be adopted, based on knowledge on animal behaviour, fisheries science, statistical physics and modelling. On one side, this project will allow answering fundamental questions on gregarious fish behaviour in the presence of spatial heterogeneities. On the other side, it will contribute to constructing a quantitative approach for fisheries management.






J.D Filmater, M. Capello, J-L. Deneubourg, P.D.Cowley, L. Dagorn, Looking behind the curtain : quantifying a hidden source of massive shark mortality. Front. Ecol. Env. 11:291-296. 

M. Capello, E. Romanov, P. Bach. Fine-scale catch data reveal clusters of large predators in the pelagic realm. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 70:1785-1791.

M .Capello, M. Soria, G. Potin, P. Cotel, and L. Dagorn. Effect of current and daylight variations on small-pelagic fish aggregations (Selar crumenophthalmus) around a coastal fish aggregating device studied by fine-scale acoustic tracking. Aquatic Living Resources, Volume: 26, Issue:1, page: 63-68. Published: JAN 2013.

M. Capello
, M. Soria, P. Cotel, G. Potin, L. Dagorn and P. Fréon. The heterogeneous spatial and temporal patterns of behavior of small pelagic fish in an array of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 430–431, 0: 56 – 62.

M. Capello, M. Soria, P. Cotel, J. L. Deneubourg and L. Dagorn. Quantifying the interplay between environmental and social effects on aggregated-fish dynamics. Plos One 6, 12.

M. Capello and D. Poilblanc. Many-body calculation of the spatial extent of the wave function of a nonmagnetic impurity in a d -wave high-Tc superconductor using the t-J  model. Phys. Rev. B 79, 224507.

M. Raczkowski, M. Capello and D. Poilblanc. Unidirectional Charge Instability of the d-wave RVB Superconductor. Acta Phys. Polon. A 115, 77.

M. Capello, M. Raczkowski and D. Poilblanc. Stability of RVB hole stripes in high-temperature superconductors. Phys. Rev. B  77, 224502.

M. Capello, F. Becca, M. Fabrizio, S. Sorella. Mott transition in bosonic systems : Insights from the variational approach. Phys. Rev. B 77, 144517.

F. Becca , M. Capello. Variational approach for the superfluid-insulator transition in the bosonic Hubbard model. Physica B-Condensed Matter, 403 (5-9), 1293-1294.

M. Raczkowski, M. Capello, D. Poilblanc, R. Frésard, and A.M. Oles. Unidirectional d -wave superconducting domains in the two-dimensional t-J model. Phys. Rev. B (Rapid Comm.) 76, 140505.

M. Capello, F.Becca, M. Fabrizio, and S. Sorella. Superfluid to Mott-Insulator Transition in Bose-Hubbard Models. Phys. Rev. Lett. 99, 056402.

M. Capello, F. Becca, S. Yunoki, and S. Sorella. Unconventional metal-insulator transition in two dimensions. Phys. Rev. B, 73, 245116.

M. Capello, F. Becca, S. Yunoki, M. Fabrizio, and S. Sorella. From Luttinger liquid to Mott insulator: The correct low-energy description of the 1D Hubbard model by an unbiased variational approach. Phys. Rev. B 72, 085121.

 M. Capello, F. Becca, M. Fabrizio, S. Sorella, and E. Tosatti. Variational Description of Mott Insulators. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 026406.

M. Capello and M. Caselle. A new class of solutions for the Dorokhov-Mello-Pereyra-Kumar equation. J. Phys. Condens. Matter 15 6845-6854.

Conferences and Seminars

Talks - Oral Presentations


Inferring animal abundance from associative behavior. ISEC International Statistical Ecology Conference, Montpellier, July 2014, France.

A new fisheries-independent method to estimate abundances of tropical tuna. CECOFAD meeting, Montpellier, March 2014, France.


Agrégation de poissons autour d’objets flottants : la Physique Statistique au services de l’Ecologie Comportementale. Conseil du Département de Biologie des Organismes, ULB, December 2013, Bruxelles.

A new fisheries independent method to estimate abundances of tropical tunas. IOTTC meeting (IOTC-2013-WPTT15-12), October 2013, San Sebastián, Spain.

October: “Spatio-temporal patterns of hooking contacts in pelagic longlining : Do they depend on the catch composition (target species versus bycatch)?” EBFMtuna International Symposium: Towards ecosystem-based management of tuna fisheries Mitigating impacts of fishing on pelagic ecosystems, Montpellier, France

July: “Using FADs for estimating tuna abundance” ISSF -International Seafood Sustainability Foundation – CPUE Workshop, Rome, Italy.

: “Analyse du comportement des petits pélagiques (Selars Chrumenophthalmus) agrégés autour des  Dispositifs de Concentration de Poissons (DCPs)”, Laboratory CRCA (Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale), Toulouse, France.

November:Quantifying the spatial structure of fish aggregations around FADs at the micro- and mesoscale from field-based modeling and acoustic data analysis”, International Conference on Tuna Fisheries and Fish Aggregating Devices, Tahiti.

November:Quantifying the spatial dynamics of small-pelagic fish around Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) ”, Run Sea Science Seminar, La Réunion, France.

September: “Overview of the work done on fish behavior around FADs @La Réunion”, MADE meeting, Victoria, Seychelles.

June: Seminar “Tracking fish positions through acoustic tagging”, Workshop on Seabird tracking and habitat modeling, ECOMAR, La Réunion, France.

May: Seminar "Field based modeling of small-pelagic fish distribution around fish aggregation devices”, ULB Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium.

May: Seminar “Quantifying the interplay between environmental and social effects on fish aggregations”, CRH Centre Ressources Halieutiques, Sète, France.

  Oral Presentation “Analyse de données et modélisation d’un ensemble de poissonsdans un réseau de DCPs” for the Run Sea Science Advisory Board, Saint Denis, La Réunion, France.

June:  Seminar    “Modelling non-homogeneous phases in cuprates” at IRL (Industrial Research Limited) Wellington, New Zealand.

Oral presentations “ESA operational tools for the scientific experiments on-board the ISS Columbus module” at CADMOS/CNES, Toulouse, France.

Seminar “Hole stripes in High-Tc superconductors”, Department of Condensed matter Physics, Bordeaux University, Bordeaux, France.

March: Seminar “Stability of inhomogeneous superconducting states in the doped t-J model”  at the APS March Meeting, New Orleans, USA.

Seminar “Variational Description of Mott insulators” XXIV Convegno di Fisica Teorica e Struttura della Materia, Levico Terme, Italy.

January: Seminar “Jastrow theory of the Mott transition” at the Theoretical Physics Laboratory, Université de Toulouse, France.
Seminar “Mott-metal insulator transition from a variational perspective”, Condensed matter physics department, Boston University, USA.

July: Seminar “From Luttiger liquid to Mott insulator : VMC approach” Quantum cluster methods for correlated materials, Sherbrooke, Canada.

Poster presentations

: Poster “Analyse du comportement des petits pélagiques (Selars Chrumenophthalmus) agrégés autour des Dispositifs de Concentration de Poissons (DCPs)” Conference SFECA (Societé Française pour l'Etude du Comportement Animal), May 2012, Saint Etienne, France.

Poster “Unidirectional d-wave superconducting domains in the two-dimensional t-J model” “From BCS to exotic superconductivity”, I2CAM Cargèse Summer School, Cargèse, France.

June: Poster : “Variational methods for the Hubbard model”, “The Italian National Institute for the Physics of Matter Meeting (INFMeeting)”, Genova, Italy.

Poster : “The Mott transition in the 1D Hubbard model : VMC study”, “International workshop on the evolution of quantum effects from the Nano- to the Macro scale”, Cargèse, France.

January: Poster : “Monte Carlo methods for strongly correlated systems”, “Joint DEMOCRITOS-ICTP School on Continuum Quantum Monte Carlo Methods”, ICTP, Trieste, Italy.