Identifying a common backbone of interactions underlying food webs from different ecosystems
© 2018 The Author(s). Although the structure of empirical food webs can differ between ecosystems, there is growing evidence of multiple ways in which they also exhibit common topological properties. To reconcile these contrasting observations, we postulate the existence of a backbone of interactions underlying all ecological networks - a common substructure within every network comprised of species playing similar ecological roles - and a periphery of species whose idiosyncrasies help explain the differences between networks. To test this conjecture, we introduce a new approach to investigate the structural similarity of 411 food webs from multiple environments and biomes. We first find significant differences in the way species in different ecosystems interact with each other. Despite these differences, we then show that there is compelling evidence of a common backbone of interactions underpinning all food webs. We expect that identifying a backbone of interactions will shed light on the rules driving assembly of different ecological communities.
SubjectsField of Research::06 - Biological Sciences::0602 - Ecology::060202 - Community Ecology
- Staging