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Complexity and Fragility in Ecological Networks

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  • Ricard V. Solé
  • José M. Montoya
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    Abstract

    A detailed analysis of three species-rich ecosystem food webs has shown that they display scale-free distributions of connections. Such graphs of interaction are in fact shared by a number of biological and technological networks, which have been shown to display a very high homeostasis against random removals of nodes. Here we analyse the response of these ecological graphs to both random and selective perturbations (directed to most connected species). Our results suggest that ecological networks are extremely robust against random removal but very fragile when selective attacks are used. These observations can have important consequences for biodiversity dynamics and conservation issues, current estimations of extinction rates and the relevance and definition of keystone species.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Santa Fe Institute in its series Working Papers with number 00-11-060.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:00-11-060

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    Cited by:
    1. Ramon Ferrer i Cancho & Ricard V. Solé, 2001. "The Small-World of Human Language," Working Papers 01-03-016, Santa Fe Institute.
    2. Matutinovic, Igor, 2002. "Organizational patterns of economies: an ecological perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 421-440, March.
    3. Matutinovic, Igor, 2001. "The aspects and the role of diversity in socioeconomic systems: an evolutionary perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 239-256, November.

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