Species interactions are essential for the maintenance and persistence of biodiversity, and underlie many ecosystem services including pollination, decomposition, and population regulation. However, global change and anthropogenic threats may alter community composition through species loss, potentially resulting in interaction disruption, and the failure to provide ecosystem services. Following the extinction of interaction partners, a species can either become extinct, or form novel interactions. Novel interactions allow species to respond to shifting ecological contexts, maintaining ecosystem function both between years and over longer time scales. Thus, a key challenge for contemporary ecologist is to identify which traits that are related to species flexibility and persistence in the landscape, increasing our predictive ability in determining which species---and interactions---are most susceptible to disruption.
Because species that contribute the most to the network stricture maintenance are also the most vulnerable to extinction, understanding how variable species are in their contribution to networks structure will help us identify species' importance in maintaining community robustness. We explore:
1. How to calculate interaction flexibility across different network scales
2. What ecological traits of species are related to interaction flexibility
3. How persistence across a landscape is related to interaction flexibility
Ponisio, L.C., Gaiarsa, M.P. and Kremen, C. 2017. Opportunistic attachment assembles plant-pollinator networks. Ecology Letters. 20:1261–1272 pdf (Github)
Ponisio, L.C. and M'Gonigle, L.K. 2017. Coevolution leaves a weak signal on ecological networks. Ecosphere. 8:e01798. pdf (GitHub)
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