Keystone species and food webs.
Institute for Advanced Study,
1014 Budapest, Hungary.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2009 Jun 27;364(1524):1733-41.
ABSTRACTDifferent species are of different importance in maintaining ecosystem functions in natural communities. Quantitative approaches are needed to identify unusually important or influential, 'keystone' species particularly for conservation purposes. Since the importance of some species may largely be the consequence of their rich interaction structure, one possible quantitative approach to identify the most influential species is to study their position in the network of interspecific interactions. In this paper, I discuss the role of network analysis (and centrality indices in particular) in this process and present a new and simple approach to characterizing the interaction structures of each species in a complex network. Understanding the linkage between structure and dynamics is a condition to test the results of topological studies, I briefly overview our current knowledge on this issue. The study of key nodes in networks has become an increasingly general interest in several disciplines: I will discuss some parallels. Finally, I will argue that conservation biology needs to devote more attention to identify and conserve keystone species and relatively less attention to rarity.Elephants
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