Skip to main content



Network Stability

The classic way to start any article about networks is to write a list of supposedly surprising and diverse phenomena that can be described as a network. Roads. Nerve cells. Friendships. Ecosystems. The internet. Fortunately for you, I won’t list them all because you have all probably read that list many times before (whoops). [Or in video form: link]. When it comes to ecology, we have been describing ecosystems as a network of interacting species for essentially as long as the field has existed. Food webs, a specific type of an ecological interaction network was graphically represented as early as 1880 (wikipedia). What is interesting about these networks, is that over time, as these networks grow, they will inherently become unstable (May 1972).

This is a where a recent article in Science comes in. A. Mougi and M. Kondoh (2012) show theoretically that a mix of interaction types (mutualistic, antagonistic, competitive) can have a significant impact on the community’s stability. Take a network of one interaction type (e.g. a classical food web is completely antagonistic interactions). Adding just a few mutualistic interactions completely destabilizes the network. However, continually adding a higher percentage of mutualistic interactions continues to increase to some peak stability before decreasing until all interactions are mutualistic. This would indicate that the increased complexity of the system, i.e. a combination of different interaction types, does in fact lead to increased stability (to a point…).

 

-Ilan

Comments

Leave a Reply

Blogging Calendar

September 2012
M T W T F S S
« Aug   Oct »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

Archives