- Ecology Letters (2022 )
- Authors: Frederico Mestre, Alejandro Rozenfeld, Miguel B. Araújo
- Link to article: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.14107
Networks describe nodes connected by links, with numbers of links per node, the degree, forming a range of distributions including random and scale-free. How network topologies emerge in natural systems still puzzles scientists. Based on previous theoretical simulations, we predict that scale-free food webs are favourably selected by random disturbances while random food webs are selected by targeted disturbances. We assume that lower human pressures are more likely associated with random disturbances, whereas higher pressures are associated with targeted ones. We examine these predictions using 351 empirical food webs, generally confirming our predictions. Should the topology of food webs respond to changes in the magnitude of disturbances in a predictable fashion, consistently across ecosystems and scales of organisation, it would provide a baseline expectation to understand and predict the consequences of human pressures on ecosystem dynamics.