Species-Area Relationships (SAR) are fundamental to understand diversity distribution across spatial scales. Area is also likely to play a central role in shaping species interactions in multispecies communities because it influences the number of links per species, and potentially the way they are distributed. Here we extend the study of the spatial scaling of biodiversity to ecological networks by disentangling the effect of space (location and area sampled) on species richness and on the organisation of trophic interactions. We propose and investigate with different models mechanisms driving Network-Area Relationships (NAR).
We show that parallel to SARs, multiple types of NARs emerge driven by differences in SARs across trophic levels, by the preferential selection of generalist species in smaller areas, and by the effect of dispersal between patches. Together with further empirical work, these ideas can provide fundamental understanding about the spatial scaling of biodiversity and network complexity, crucial for accurate predictions and management of potential effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on natural communities.