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The visualisation of ecological networks, and their use as a tool for engagement, advocacy and management

Pocock, Michael J.O.; Evans, Darren M.; Fontaine, Colin; Harvey, Martin; Julliard, Romain; McLaughlin, Órla; Silvertown, Jonathan; Tamaddoni-Nezhad, Alireza; White, Piran C.L.; Bohan, David A.. 2016 The visualisation of ecological networks, and their use as a tool for engagement, advocacy and management. Advances in Ecological Research, 54. 41-85. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aecr.2015.10.006

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Abstract/Summary

Ecological systems comprise of individuals and species interacting with each other and their environment, and these interactions combine to form complex networks. The maintenance of biodiversity and many ecosystem functions depend upon these ecological interactions. Humans, their crops and livestock can also be considered as part of these networks of interactions making network analysis valuable for considering the resilience of ecosystem services, i.e., the benefits we gain from nature. Networks are visually appealing and visualisation can attract attention and inform, both to communicate overall messages and provide comparisons between networks. There are many different approaches and layouts for visualising networks, but there is little research to help guide best practice. Ultimately though, best practice should be to ensure that messages are supported by evidence and clearly communicated with reference to the competence of the audience. Given the appeal of visualisations and the importance of networks in communicating the interdependence of species (including humans), ecological networks and their visualisation can be used to support excellent public engagement and can be used to enhance the value of citizen science, in which people actively contribute to scientific research. Network approaches could also be valuable for engagement with decision-makers and stakeholders, including their application to complex socio-economic systems, especially where co-production of network visualisations could provide evidence-based overviews of data. In summary, ecological networks and their visualisation are an important tool for scientific inquiry, communication and engagement with even greater potential than has currently been realised.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.aecr.2015.10.006
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 0065-2504
Additional Keywords: public engagement, citizen science, graphics, data visualisation, visualisation, food web, interaction, graph drawing
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 21 Feb 2017 15:34 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/516294

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