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Drought rewires the cores of food webs

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Title: Drought rewires the cores of food webs
Authors: Lu, X
Gray, C
Brown, LE
Ledger, ME
Milner, AM
Mondragón, RJ
Woodward, G
Ma, A
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Droughts are intensifying across the globe with potentially devastating implications for freshwater ecosystems. We used new network science approaches to investigate drought impacts on stream food webs and explored potential consequences for web robustness to future perturbations. The substructure of the webs was characterized by a core of richly connected species surrounded by poorly connected peripheral species. Although drought caused the partial collapse of the food webs, the loss of the most extinction-prone peripheral species triggered a substantial rewiring of interactions within the networks’ cores. These shifts in species interactions in the core conserved the underlying core/periphery substructure and stability of the drought-impacted webs. When we subsequently perturbed the webs by simulating species loss in silico, the rewired drought webs were as robust as the larger, undisturbed webs. Our research unearths previously unknown compensatory dynamics arising from within the core that could underpin food web stability in the face of environmental perturbations.
Issue Date: 9-May-2016
Date of Acceptance: 29-Mar-2016
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/39625
DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3002
ISSN: 1758-678X
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Start Page: 875
End Page: 878
Journal / Book Title: Nature Climate Change
Volume: 6
Copyright Statement: © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Physical Sciences
Environmental Sciences
Environmental Studies
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
0401 Atmospheric Sciences
0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience
0502 Environmental Science and Management
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2016-05-09
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences