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Ecol Lett. 2011 Nov;14(11):1170-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01688.x. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

The ecological and evolutionary implications of merging different types of networks.

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1
Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, Laboratoire Conservation des Espèces, Restauration et Suivi des Populations, UMR 7204 CNRS-MNHN, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 61 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France. cfontaine@mnhn.fr

Abstract

Interactions among species drive the ecological and evolutionary processes in ecological communities. These interactions are effectively key components of biodiversity. Studies that use a network approach to study the structure and dynamics of communities of interacting species have revealed many patterns and associated processes. Historically these studies were restricted to trophic interactions, although network approaches are now used to study a wide range of interactions, including for example the reproductive mutualisms. However, each interaction type remains studied largely in isolation from others. Merging the various interaction types within a single integrative framework is necessary if we want to further our understanding of the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of communities. Dividing the networks up is a methodological convenience as in the field the networks occur together in space and time and will be linked by shared species. Herein, we outline a conceptual framework for studying networks composed of more than one type of interaction, highlighting key questions and research areas that would benefit from their study.

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