DOI: 10.1101/452565Oct 24, 2018Paper

Insights on the assembly rules of a continent-wide multilayer network

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Marco A R MelloRichard D Stevens


How are ecological systems assembled? Here, we aim to contribute to answering this question by harnessing the framework of a novel integrative hypothesis. We shed light on the assembly rules of a multilayer network formed by frugivory and nectarivory interactions between bats and plants in the Neotropics. Our results suggest that, at a large scale, phylogenetic trade-offs separate species into different layers and modules. At an intermediate scale, the modules are also shaped by geographic trade-offs. And at a small scale, the network shifts to a nested structure within its modules, probably as a consequence of resource breadth processes. Finally, once the topology of the network is shaped, morphological traits related to consuming fruits or nectar determine which species are central or peripheral. Our results help understand how different processes contribute to the assemblage of ecological systems at different scales, resulting in a compound topology.

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