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Open Access item Plant-Animal Mutualistic Networks: The Architecture of Biodiversity

Authors:Bascompte, Jordi
Jordano, Pedro
Keywords:coevolution,, complex networks, mutualism, pollination, Seed dispersal
Issue Date:2007
Publisher:Annual Reviews
Citation:Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 2007. 38:567–93
Abstract:The mutually beneficial interactions between plants and their an- imal pollinators and seed dispersers have been paramount in the generation of Earth’s biodiversity. These mutualistic interactions often involve dozens or even hundreds of species that form com- plex networks of interdependences. Understanding how coevolu- tion proceeds in these highly diversified mutualisms among free- living species presents a conceptual challenge. Recent work has led to the unambiguous conclusion that mutualistic networks are very heterogeneous (the bulk of the species have a few interactions, but a few species are much more connected than expected by chance), nested (specialists interact with subsets of the species with which generalists interact), and built on weak and asymmetric links among species. Both ecological variables (e.g., phenology, local abundance, and geographic range) and past evolutionary history may explain such network patterns. Network structure has important implica- tions for the coexistence and stability of species as well as for the coevolutionary process. Mutualistic networks can thus be regarded as the architecture of biodiversity
Publisher version (URL):http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.38.091206.095818
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10261/38462
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