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Synchronization unveils the organization of ecological networks with positive and negative interactions

AutorGirón, Andrea; Saiz, Hugo; Bacelar, Flora S.; Andrade, Roberto F. S.; Gómez-Gardeñes, Jesús
Palabras claveNetworks
Network topology
Coupled oscillators
Cluster analysis
Fecha de publicaciónmar-2016
EditorAmerican Institute of Physics
CitaciónChaos 26(6): 065302 (2016)
ResumenNetwork science has helped to understand the organization principles of the interactions among the constituents of large complex systems. However, recently, the high resolution of the data sets collected has allowed to capture the different types of interactions coexisting within the same system. A particularly important example is that of systems with positive and negative interactions, a usual feature appearing in social, neural, and ecological systems. The interplay of links of opposite sign presents natural difficulties for generalizing typical concepts and tools applied to unsigned networks and, moreover, poses some questions intrinsic to the signed nature of the network, such as how are negative interactions balanced by positive ones so to allow the coexistence and survival of competitors/foes within the same system? Here, we show that synchronization phenomenon is an ideal benchmark for uncovering such balance and, as a byproduct, to assess which nodes play a critical role in the overall organization of the system. We illustrate our findings with the analysis of synthetic and real ecological networks in which facilitation and competitive interactions coexist. In the last decade, network science has provided the ideal benchmark to encode, analyze, and understand the complex relationships that are established in large scale systems of nature as disparate as the Internet or the brain. As databases become more abundant and complete, we face the challenge of analyzing networks containing multiple types of connections. Here, we tackle the case of signed networks, where the interactions can be either positive or negative. On one hand, we illustrate how synchronization processes capture the organization of this kind of graph into a set of modules interacting negatively among them. With this in mind, we apply the synchronization benchmark to real systems. In particular, we characterize the ecological balance between facilitation and competition in plant communities and analyze the role of species in their organization.
Versión del editorhttp://doi.org/10.1063/1.4952960
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