Complexity and structural properties of food webs in the Barents Sea

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Olivier Pierre, Planque Benjamin
Publisher: Blackwell
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Oikos
Journal acronym: Oikos
Volume number: 126
Issue number: 9
Start page: 1339
End page: 1346
eISSN: 1600-0706


A food web topology describes the diversity of species and their trophic interactions, i.e. who eats whom, and structural
analysis of food web topologies can provide insight into ecosystem structure and function. It appears simple, at rst sight,
to list all species and their trophic interactions. However, the very large number of species at low trophic levels and the
impossibility to monitor all trophic interactions in the ocean makes it impossible to construct complete food web topolo-
gies. In practice, food web topologies are simpli ed by aggregating species into groups termed trophospecies. It is not clear
though, how much simpli ed versions of food webs retain the structural properties of more detailed networks. Using the
most comprehensive Barents Sea food web to date, we investigate the performance of methods to construct simpli ed food
webs using three approaches: taxonomic, structural and regular clustering. We then evaluate how topological properties
vary with the level of network simpli cation. Results show that alteration of food web structural properties due to aggrega-
tion are highly sensitive to the methodology used for grouping species and trophic links. In the speci c case of the Barents
Sea, we show that it is possible to preserve key structural properties of the original complex food web in simpli ed versions
when using taxonomic or structural clustering combined with intermediate 25% linkage for trophic aggregation.


community ecology, Ecological network, food webs

Last updated on 2020-23-01 at 04:43

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