Ecological networks and their fragility

Nature. 2006 Jul 20;442(7100):259-64. doi: 10.1038/nature04927.


Darwin used the metaphor of a 'tangled bank' to describe the complex interactions between species. Those interactions are varied: they can be antagonistic ones involving predation, herbivory and parasitism, or mutualistic ones, such as those involving the pollination of flowers by insects. Moreover, the metaphor hints that the interactions may be complex to the point of being impossible to understand. All interactions can be visualized as ecological networks, in which species are linked together, either directly or indirectly through intermediate species. Ecological networks, although complex, have well defined patterns that both illuminate the ecological mechanisms underlying them and promise a better understanding of the relationship between complexity and ecological stability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ecology*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Food Chain
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Predatory Behavior / physiology