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Open Access item Reciprocal specialization in ecological networks

Authors:Joppa, Lucas N.
Bascompte, Jordi
Montoya, José M.
Solé, Ricard V.
Sanderson, Jim
Pimm, Stuart L.
Keywords:Ecological network, food web, host-parasitoid, mutualism, nestedness, null model, specialization, trophic level
Issue Date:Sep-2009
Publisher:Blackwell Publishing
Citation:Ecology Letters, (2009) 12: 961–969
Abstract:Theories suggest that food webs might consist of groups of species forming ‘blocks’, ‘compartments’ or ‘guilds’. We consider ecological networks – subsets of complete food webs – involving species at adjacent trophic levels. Reciprocal specializations occur when (say) a pollinator (or group of pollinators) specializes on a particular flower species (or group of such species) and vice versa. Such specializations tend to group species into guilds. We characterize the level of reciprocal specialization for both antagonistic interactions – particularly parasitoids and their hosts – and mutualistic ones – such as insects and the flowers that they pollinate. We also examine whether trophic patterns might be ‘palimpsests’ – that is, there might be reciprocal specialization within taxonomically related species within a network, but these might be obscured when these relationships are combined. Reciprocal specializations are rare in all these systems when tested against the most conservative null model.
Publisher version (URL):http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01341.x/pdf
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