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Integrating network ecology with applied conservation: a synthesis and guide to implementation.

Kaiser-Bunbury, Christopher N. and Blüthgen, Nico (2015):
Integrating network ecology with applied conservation: a synthesis and guide to implementation.
In: AoB PLANTS, pp. plv076, 7, ISSN 2041-2851, [Article]

Abstract

Ecological networks are a useful tool to study the complexity of biotic interactions at a community level. Advances in the understanding of network patterns encourage the application of a network approach in other disciplines than theoretical ecology, such as biodiversity conservation. So far, however, practical applications have been meagre. Here we present a framework for network analysis to be harnessed to advance conservation management by using plant-pollinator networks and islands as model systems. Conservation practitioners require indicators to monitor and assess management effectiveness and validate overall conservation goals. By distinguishing between two network attributes, the diversity and distribution of interactions, on three hierarchical levels (species, guild/group and network) we identified seven quantitative metrics that describe changes to network patterns. Diversity metrics are partner diversity, vulnerability/generality, interaction diversity and interaction evenness, and distribution metrics are the specialisation indices d' and H2', and modularity. Distribution metrics account for sampling bias and may therefore be suitable indicators to detect human-induced changes to plant-pollinator communities, thus indirectly assessing the structural and functional robustness and integrity of ecosystems. We propose an implementation pathway that outlines the stages that are required to successfully embed a network approach in biodiversity conservation. Most importantly, only if conservation action and study design are appropriately aligned through joined experience of practitioners and ecologists, the findings of a conservation-network-approach are equally beneficial for advancing adaptive management and ecological network theory. We list potential obstacles to the framework, highlight the shortfall in empirical, mostly experimental, network data, and discuss possible solutions.

Item Type: Article
Erschienen: 2015
Creators: Kaiser-Bunbury, Christopher N. and Blüthgen, Nico
Title: Integrating network ecology with applied conservation: a synthesis and guide to implementation.
Language: English
Abstract:

Ecological networks are a useful tool to study the complexity of biotic interactions at a community level. Advances in the understanding of network patterns encourage the application of a network approach in other disciplines than theoretical ecology, such as biodiversity conservation. So far, however, practical applications have been meagre. Here we present a framework for network analysis to be harnessed to advance conservation management by using plant-pollinator networks and islands as model systems. Conservation practitioners require indicators to monitor and assess management effectiveness and validate overall conservation goals. By distinguishing between two network attributes, the diversity and distribution of interactions, on three hierarchical levels (species, guild/group and network) we identified seven quantitative metrics that describe changes to network patterns. Diversity metrics are partner diversity, vulnerability/generality, interaction diversity and interaction evenness, and distribution metrics are the specialisation indices d' and H2', and modularity. Distribution metrics account for sampling bias and may therefore be suitable indicators to detect human-induced changes to plant-pollinator communities, thus indirectly assessing the structural and functional robustness and integrity of ecosystems. We propose an implementation pathway that outlines the stages that are required to successfully embed a network approach in biodiversity conservation. Most importantly, only if conservation action and study design are appropriately aligned through joined experience of practitioners and ecologists, the findings of a conservation-network-approach are equally beneficial for advancing adaptive management and ecological network theory. We list potential obstacles to the framework, highlight the shortfall in empirical, mostly experimental, network data, and discuss possible solutions.

Journal or Publication Title: AoB PLANTS
Volume: 7
Divisions: 10 Department of Biology
10 Department of Biology > Synthetic Ecological Networks
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2015 12:07
Identification Number: doi:10.1093/aobpla/plv076
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