I have a new paper out (Hembry et al., 2018) in the Journal of Animal Ecology testing the hypothesis that biological intimacy has predictable effects on the architecture of interactions among species in mutualistic assemblages–specifically, that intimacy is associated with reciprocally specialized and modular architecture. This paper is a new empirical study on the leafflower-leafflower moth system in French Polynesia, and also puts forward a set of methods for the empirical analysis of very small (less than 10 species) ecological networks. The paper a a collaboration with Rafael Raimundo, Erica Newman, Paulo Guimarães, my Ph.D. adviser Rosemary Gillespie, and UC Berkeley undergraduate researchers Lesje Atkinson and Chang Guo.
Hembry DH, Raimundo RLG, Newman EA, Atkinson L, Guo C, Guimarães PR Jr, Gillespie RG. 2018. Does biological intimacy shape ecological network structure? A test using a brood pollination mutualism on continental and oceanic islands. Journal of Animal Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12841
You can download the paper (and read English and French abstracts) at this link.
Last week, I co-organized (with Marcus de Aguiar, Erica Newman, Jimmy O’Donnell, and Paulo Guimarães) a workshop on spatial and temporal dynamics of ecological networks of species interactions at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics-South American Institute for Fundamental Research in São Paulo, Brazil. This workshop brought together about 25 participants, of whom approximately 10 were alumni of an earlier Working Group at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, and the other 15 were new participants (mostly graduate students and postdocs at Brazilian institutions). Participants made progress on several collaborative projects and gave seminars on different topics related to the study of species interactions and spatial ecology from ecological and evolutionary perspectives.
Last week I gave a seminar at the Instituto de Ecología of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Hermosillo, Sonora. I was very kindly hosted by Alberto Búrquez and Angelina Martínez in the Laboratorio de Ecología de Zonas Áridas y Semiáridas. Hermosillo is a five-hour bus ride south of Tucson, and in a lot of ways resembles the latter city. The community of EEB researchers at UNAM there includes a number of people working in species interactions and paleontology.
These are some Cretaceous hadrosaur tracks from the state of Sonora on display in the institute lobby.
Later that weekend I had the chance to botanize in Cañón del Nacapule, an hour south of Hermosillo, with other colleagues from UNAM. This canyon is renowned among naturalists in the southwestern US and northern Mexico for its biodiversity: in the depths of a dry desert canyon are many plants that are more representative of Neotropical ecosystems further south, including multiple co-existing species each of palms and figs.
Many thanks to everyone at UNAM for hosting my visit, and I look forward to visiting again soon!
A new R package, EcoNetGen, is now available on CRAN for the simulation of very large (thousands of links and nodes) ecological networks, using an R wrapper which calls up code in FORTRAN. EcoNetGen was written by Marcus de Aguiar and Mathias Pires (Universidade Estadual de Campinas), Erica Newman (University of Arizona), and Carl Boettiger (University of California, Berkeley). The original Python version for EcoNetGen is described in a preprint (de Aguiar et al. 2017) available on arXiv. This package is an outgrowth of the recent Working Group on the dynamics of ecological networks which I instigated and co-organized along with Dominique Gravel, Paulo Guimarães, and Jimmy O’Donnell at NIMBioS.
You can download EcoNetGen here: https://zenodo.org/record/1212559
Further updates to EcoNetGen will be posted soon. Give it a try and send any feedback to the package authors!