Modularity and stability in ecological communities

Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 23:7:12031. doi: 10.1038/ncomms12031.


Networks composed of distinct, densely connected subsystems are called modular. In ecology, it has been posited that a modular organization of species interactions would benefit the dynamical stability of communities, even though evidence supporting this hypothesis is mixed. Here we study the effect of modularity on the local stability of ecological dynamical systems, by presenting new results in random matrix theory, which are obtained using a quaternionic parameterization of the cavity method. Results show that modularity can have moderate stabilizing effects for particular parameter choices, while anti-modularity can greatly destabilize ecological networks.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ecosystem*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Plants