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PageRank in the Wild

Link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090904071652.htm

The article discusses how PageRank is used to determine which species in a food web are the most important and would, therefore, have the most impact on the other species in the web if they were to be removed by something like extinction. In this case, PageRank would be represented by the flow of nutrients through the web. In addition, the PageRank algorithm was inverted. This means that Pages, species in this case, which supplied nutrients to many other animals would receive a greater rank.

This is a very interesting application of the PageRank algorithm and it raises a few good questions: what would it mean for a food web to have equilibrium PageRank values?  By extrapolation from what we learned in class, we can say it would mean that without external interference, a web of species in the wild would remain unchanged. This could mean populations would remain constant, or that behaviors would not be expected to change.

We discussed the importance of PageRank in class and this is a good example to showcase this. The research mentioned in the article can be used to determine how to allocate resources for saving endangered species based on which ones are more crucial. The research from the article also shows that PageRank can be applied to other tasks such as protein interaction and gene regulation.

Are human beings the most important species in the current web of everything on earth? They definitely have the most impact and potential for impact on other species.

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