Antagonistic interaction networks are structured independently of latitude and host guild.

Research paper by Rebecca J RJ Morris, Sofia S Gripenberg, Owen T OT Lewis, Tomas T Roslin

Indexed on: 21 Dec '13Published on: 21 Dec '13Published in: Ecology Letters


An increase in species richness with decreasing latitude is a prominent pattern in nature. However, it remains unclear whether there are corresponding latitudinal gradients in the properties of ecological interaction networks. We investigated the structure of 216 quantitative antagonistic networks comprising insect hosts and their parasitoids, drawn from 28 studies from the High Arctic to the tropics. Key metrics of network structure were strongly affected by the size of the interaction matrix (i.e. the total number of interactions documented between individuals) and by the taxonomic diversity of the host taxa involved. After controlling for these sampling effects, quantitative networks showed no consistent structural patterns across latitude and host guilds, suggesting that there may be basic rules for how sets of antagonists interact with resource species. Furthermore, the strong association between network size and structure implies that many apparent spatial and temporal variations in network structure may prove to be artefacts.