Food webs studies are intrinsically complex and time-consuming. Network data about trophic interaction across different large locations and ecosystems are scarce in comparison with general ecological data, especially if we consider terrestrial habitats. Here we present a complex network strategy to ease the gathering of the information by simplifying the collection of data with a taxonomic key. We test how well the topology of three different food webs retain their structure at the resolution of the nodes across distinct levels of simplification, and we estimate how community detection could be impacted by this strategy. The first level of simplification retains most of the general topological indices; betweenness and trophic levels seem to be consistent and robust even at the higher levels of simplification. This result suggests that generalisation and standardisation, as a good practice in food webs science, could benefit the community, both increasing the amount of open data available and the comparison among them, thus providing support especially for scientists that are new in this field and for exploratory analysis.

A network simplification approach to ease topological studies about the food-web architecture

Andrea Gini
;
Angelo Facchini
2022

Abstract

Food webs studies are intrinsically complex and time-consuming. Network data about trophic interaction across different large locations and ecosystems are scarce in comparison with general ecological data, especially if we consider terrestrial habitats. Here we present a complex network strategy to ease the gathering of the information by simplifying the collection of data with a taxonomic key. We test how well the topology of three different food webs retain their structure at the resolution of the nodes across distinct levels of simplification, and we estimate how community detection could be impacted by this strategy. The first level of simplification retains most of the general topological indices; betweenness and trophic levels seem to be consistent and robust even at the higher levels of simplification. This result suggests that generalisation and standardisation, as a good practice in food webs science, could benefit the community, both increasing the amount of open data available and the comparison among them, thus providing support especially for scientists that are new in this field and for exploratory analysis.
Settore BIO/07 - Ecologia
ecological network; food-web
Horizon 2020
Grant Agreement n. 871042
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11384/123622
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