Symmetric assembly and disassembly processes in an ecological network

Jason M. Tylianakis*, Laura B. Martínez-García, Sarah J. Richardson, Duane A. Peltzer, Ian A. Dickie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The processes whereby ecological networks emerge, persist and decay throughout ecosystem development are largely unknown. Here we study networks of plant and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) communities along a 120 000 year soil chronosequence, as they undergo assembly (progression) and then disassembly (retrogression). We found that network assembly and disassembly were symmetrical, self-reinforcing processes that together were capable of generating key attributes of network architecture. Plant and AMF species that had short indirect paths to others in the community (i.e. high centrality), rather than many direct interaction partners (i.e. high degree), were best able to attract new interaction partners and, in the case of AMF species, also to retain existing interactions with plants during retrogression. We then show using simulations that these non-random patterns of attachment and detachment promote nestedness of the network. These results have implications for predicting extinction sequences, identifying focal points for invasions and suggesting trajectories for restoration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-904
JournalEcology Letters
Volume21
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Community assembly
  • ecosystem development
  • mutualist network
  • mycorrhizal symbiosis
  • preferential attachment
  • retrogression
  • succession

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    Tylianakis, J. M., Martínez-García, L. B., Richardson, S. J., Peltzer, D. A., & Dickie, I. A. (2018). Symmetric assembly and disassembly processes in an ecological network. Ecology Letters, 21(6), 896-904. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12957