Macroinvertebrates assembly in a patchy environment: centrality measures for the spatial network of detritus-based communities


  1. Spatial patterns influence the persistence of populations and communities, giving useful insights on the mechanisms that confer robustness to ecological networks.
  2. The mechanisms that regulate the spatial distribution of species are related to the ability of populations to respond to spatio-temporal variations of ecological conditions, contributing to network structure and dynamic of persisting communities.
  3. We applied the framework of complex network to study the colonization process of Phragmites australis leaf detritus in six different pools in the patchy aquatic environment of Tarquinia saltern (central Italy).
  4. We used the colonization data of macroinvertebrates on leaf detritus assigning a link between two taxa if they shared a common pool, and measured their positional importance within the network.
  5. We found high clustering and short path lenght among nodes that is representative of small-world pattern, showing the relationship between robustness and nodes synchronicity in network attachment dynamics.
  6. Here we show how the identification of local (individual use of substrates by macroinvertebrates) and global (network properties) patterns in community structure could be the key to better understand the ecology, evolution and management of complex ecological network.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i1825229Xv3n1p1

Tarquinia saltern; detritus; macroinvertebrates; colonization; network analysis; spatial network; robustness; perturbations

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