COS 117-3 - Spatial patterns of species interaction networks

Thursday, August 11, 2011: 2:10 PM
18A, Austin Convention Center
Luis J. Gilarranz, Integrative Ecology, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain and Jordi Bascompte, Integrative Ecology, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Spain

In mutualistic communities, generalist species tend to occupy the core of the network, and are supposed to drive the coevolution of the entire assembly. Little is known, however, about how the architecture of these networks varies across the landscape. If the identity of the core species changes geographically, for example, different coevolutionary vortex may occur in different sites. In this talk we will explore the relationships between local and regional processes in shaping the structure of local plant-animal mutualistic communities. Our approach is based on a metacommunity model.  Space is represented as a discrete set of patches of suitable habitat, and extinction and colonization dynamics take into account the network of mutualistic interactions occurring within each habitat patch.


At a regional scale, interactions among generalist species are more widespread, while interactions involving specialist species occur in only a few patches. Thus, different community assemblages are found in different habitat patches, which is explained by the interplay between landscape structure and the structure of species interaction networks. Next, we characterize how this interplay between spatial structure and multi-species interactions determines the scaling of the number of interactions versus area. Our approach, therefore, extends island biogeography to describe spatial patterns of species interactions, and provides a link between network theory and the geographic mosaic theory of coevolution, arguable the two most significant theories bringing tractability to coevolution in multi-species assemblages.

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