Computational Ecology and Software, 2015, 5(4): 317-327
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The architecture of antagonistic networks: Node degree distribution, compartmentalization and nestedness

Savannah Nuwagaba1, Cang Hui1,2
1Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Matieland 7602, South Africa
2Mathematical and Physical Biosciences, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cape Town 7945, South Africa

Received 25 July 2015;Accepted 3 August 2015;Published online 1 December 2015

Describing complex ecosystems as networks of interacting components has proved fruitful - revealing many distinctive patterns and dynamics of ecological systems. Of these patterns, three have often been brought up in literature, including species degree distribution, compartmentalization and nestedness, due largely to their implications for the functionality and stability of communities. Here, using 61 empirical antagonistic networks, we aim to settle the inconsistency in literature by (i) fitting their node degree distributions to five different parametric models and identifying the one fits the best, (ii) measuring the levels of nestedness and compartmentalization of these 61 networks and testing their significance using different null models, and (iii) exploring how network connectance affects these three network architecture metrics. This research showed that most antagonistic networks do not display power law degree distributions and that resource species are generally uniformly distributed. We also clearly showed that the conclusion of whether a network is significantly compartmentalized or nested depends largely on the null model used.

Keywords ecological network;modularity;null model;connectance.

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