Sampling networks of ecological interactions

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Pedro Jordano

Abstract

1. Sampling ecological interactions presents similar challenges, problems, potential biases, and constraints as sampling individuals and species in biodiversity inventories. Interactions are just pairwise relationships among individuals of two different species, such as those among plants and their seed dispersers in frugivory interactions or those among plants and their pollinators. Sampling interactions is a fundamental step to build robustly estimated interaction networks, yet few analyses have attempted a formal approach to their sampling protocols. 2. Robust estimates of the actual number of interactions (links) within diversified ecological networks require adequate sampling effort that needs to be explicitly gauged. Yet we still lack a sampling theory explicitly focusing on ecological interactions. 3. While the complete inventory of interactions is likely impossible, a robust characterization of its main patterns and metrics is probably realistic. We must acknowledge that a sizable fraction of the maximum number of interactions I\_max among, say, A animal species and P plant species (i.e., I\_max= AP) is impossible to record due to forbidden links, i.e., life-history restrictions. Thus, the number of observed interaction...Continue Reading

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