The robustness of a network of ecological networks to habitat loss

Evans, Darren M.; Pocock, Michael J.O.; Memmott, Jane. 2013 The robustness of a network of ecological networks to habitat loss. Ecology Letters, 16 (7). 844-852.

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There have been considerable advances in our understanding of the tolerance of species interaction networks to sequential extinctions of plants and animals. However, communities of species exist in a mosaic of habitats, and the vulnerability of habitats to anthropogenic change varies. Here, we model the cascading effects of habitat loss, driven by plant extinctions, on the robustness of multiple animal groups. Our network is constructed from empirical observations of 11 animal groups in 12 habitats on farmland. We simulated sequential habitat removal scenarios: randomly; according to prior information; and with a genetic algorithm to identify best- and worst-case permutations of habitat loss. We identified two semi-natural habitats (waste ground and hedgerows together comprising < 5% of the total area of the farm) as disproportionately important to the integrity of the overall network. Our approach provides a new tool for network ecologists and for directing the management and restoration of multiple-habitat sites.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment > BD - 2.1 - Interactions ... structure ecosystems and their functioning
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
ISSN: 1461-023X
Additional Keywords: bio-control, biodiversity, bio-indicators, ecosystem function, ecosystem services, extinction, nature conservation, plant-animal interaction, pollination, restoration
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 30 Jan 2014 10:08 +0 (UTC)

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