On the centrality and uniqueness of species from the network perspective

  • Lai S
  • Liu W
  • Jordán F
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Abstract

Identifying important species for maintaining ecosystem functions is a challenge in ecology. Since species are components of food webs, one way to conceptualize and quantify species importance is from a network perspective. The importance of a species can be quantified by measuring the centrality of its position in a food web, because a central node may have greater influence on others in the network. A species may also be important because it has a unique network position, such that its loss cannot be easily compensated. Therefore, for a food web to be robust, we hypothesize that central species must be functionally redundant in terms of their network position. In this paper, we test our hypothesis by analysing the Prince William Sound ecosystem. We found that species centrality and uniqueness are negatively correlated, and such an observation is also carried over to other food webs.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Centrality
  • Food web
  • Species importance
  • Uniqueness

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