Interaction frequency, network position, and the temporal persistence of interactions in a plant–pollinator network
Chacoff, Natacha Paola; Resasco, Julian; Vazquez, Diego P.; Interaction frequency, network position, and the temporal persistence of interactions in a plant–pollinator network; Ecological Society of America; Ecology; 99; 1; 1-2018; 21-28
Chacoff, Natacha Paola
Vazquez, Diego P.
Ecological interactions are highly dynamic in time and space. Previous studies of plant–animal mutualistic networks have shown that the occurrence of interactions varies substantially across years. We analyzed interannual variation of a quantitative mutualistic network, in which links are weighted by interaction frequency. The network was sampled over six consecutive years, representing one of the longest time series for a community-wide mutualistic network. We estimated the interannual similarity in interactions and assessed the determinants of their persistence. The occurrence of interactions varied greatly among years, with most interactions seen in only one year (64%) and few (20%) in more than two years. This variation was associated with the frequency and position of interactions relative to the network core, so that the network consisted of a persistent core of frequent interactions and many peripheral, infrequent interactions. Null model analyses suggest that species abundances play a substantial role in generating these patterns. Our study represents an important step in the study of ecological networks, furthering our mechanistic understanding of the ecological processes driving the temporal persistence of interactions.