Extinction-induced community reorganization in bipartite networks

Sheykhali, S; Fernández-Gracia, J; Traveset, A; Eguíluz, VM
Applied Network Science 4, 23 (2019)

We study how the community structure of bipartite mutualistic networks changes in a dynamic context. First, we consider a real mutualistic network and introduce extinction events according to several scenarios. We model extinctions as node or interaction removals. For node removal, we consider random, directed and sequential extinctions; for interaction removal, we consider random extinctions. The bipartite network reorganizes showing an increase of the effective modularity and a fast decrease of the persistence of the species in the original communities with increasing number of extinction events. Second, we compare extinctions in a real mutualistic network with the growth of a bipartite network model. The modularity reaches a stationary value and nodes remain in the same community after joining the network. Our results show that perturbations and disruptive events affect the connectivity pattern of mutualistic networks at the mesoscale level. The increase of the effective modularity observed in some scenarios could provide some protection to the remaining ecosystem.

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