Plant-animal mutualistic networks: the architecture of biodiversity

  • IFISC Colloquium

  • Jordi Bascompte
  • University of Zurich
  • May 11, 2016, 3 p.m.
  • IFISC Seminar Room
  • Announcement file

The mutualistic interactions between plants and the animals that pollinate them or disperse their seeds can form complex networks involving hundreds of species. These coevolutionary networks are highly heterogeneous, nested, and built upon weak and asymmetric links among species. Such general architectural patterns maximize the number of coexisting species and increase the range of variability that these mutualistic networks can withstand before one or more species goes extinct. Therefore, mutualistic networks can be viewed as the architecture of biodiversity. However, because pylogenetically similar species tend to play similar roles in the network, extinction events trigger non-random coextinction cascades. This implies that taxonomic diversity is lost faster than expected if there was no relationship between phylogeny and network structure.

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Llorenç Serra

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