Thursday, April 08, 2010 • 3:30 PM • Robert N. Noyce Conference Room, SFI

The Architecture of Biodiversity

Jordi Bascompte Integrative Ecology Group, Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC

Abstract: The mutualistic interactions between plants and the animals that pollinate them or disperse their seeds can form complex networks involving hundreds of species. These coevolutionary networks are highly heterogeneous, nested, and built upon weak and asymmetric links among species. Such general architectural patterns increase network robustness to random extinctions and maximize the number of coexisting species. Therefore, mutualistic networks can be viewed as the architecture of biodiversity. However, because pylogenetically similar species tend to play similar roles in the network, extinction events trigger non-random coextinction cascades. This implies that taxonomic diversity is lost faster than expected if there was no relationship between phylogeny and network structure.

Host: Jennifer Dunne