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Network Biology, 2015, 5(4): 146-162
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Article

Commonality in structure among food web networks

Carrie J. Byron1, Craig Tennenhouse2
1Department of Marine Sciences, University of New England, 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME 04005, USA
2Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of New England, 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, ME 04005, USA

Received 15 July 2015;Accepted 15 August 2015;Published online 1 December 2015
IAEES

Abstract
A goal of this study was to determine similarities in structure among food webs that are otherwise disparate with regard to species, population, and size. Food webs were examined as directed, unweighted graphs in order to normalize food webs with regard to biomass and population/species distinctions. The graphs were further normalized with regard to topological size and existence of circuits through the reduction of each strongly connected component to a single node. This had the added benefit of resulting in networks with more clear delineation between trophic levels. Finally, common induced subgraphs were considered for their obvious value in characterizing network structure. Through this study we determined not only that there are pairs of systems that are highly similar in structure once appropriately normalized for size, makeup, and geographical location, but also that a majority of food webs have similar structural components when compared with random food webs.

Keywords network ecology;graph theory;food webs;directed graphs.



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