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Open AccessArticle

Aggregating a Plankton Food Web: Mathematical versus Biological Approaches

1
Danube Research Institute, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, 1113 Budapest, Hungary
2
Evolutionary Systems Research Group, MTA Centre for Ecological Research, 8237 Tihany, Hungary
3
Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Department of Integrative Marine Ecology, 80121 Naples, Italy
4
Academia Sinica, Taipei 11529, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Mathematics 2018, 6(12), 336; https://doi.org/10.3390/math6120336
Received: 29 October 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 14 December 2018 / Published: 19 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Paradigms and Trends in Quantitative Ecology)
Species are embedded in a web of intricate trophic interactions. Understanding the functional role of species in food webs is of fundamental interests. This is related to food web position, so positional similarity may provide information about functional overlap. Defining and quantifying similar trophic functioning can be addressed in different ways. We consider two approaches. One is of mathematical nature involving network analysis where unique species can be defined as those whose topological position is very different to others in the same food web. A species is unique if it has very different connection pattern compared to others. The second approach is of biological nature, based on trait-based aggregations. Unique species are not easy to aggregate with others because their traits are not in common with the ones of most others. Our goal here is to illustrate how mathematics can provide an alternative perspective on species aggregation, and how this is related to its biological counterpart. We illustrate these approaches using a toy food web and a real food web and demonstrate the sensitive relationships between those approaches. The trait-based aggregation focusing on the trait values of size (sv) can be best predicted by the mathematical aggregation algorithms. View Full-Text
Keywords: food web; plankton; redundancy; keystone species; trophic roles food web; plankton; redundancy; keystone species; trophic roles
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Jordán, F.; Endrédi, A.; Liu, W.-C.; D’Alelio, D. Aggregating a Plankton Food Web: Mathematical versus Biological Approaches. Mathematics 2018, 6, 336.

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