Document Detail

Modeling food webs: exploring unexplained structure using latent traits.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  20540609     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Several stochastic models have tried to capture the architecture of food webs. This approach is interesting, but it is limited by the fact that different assumptions can yield similar results. To overcome this limitation, we develop a purely statistical approach. Body size in terms of an optimal ratio between prey and predator is used as explanatory variable. In 12 observed food webs, this model predicts, on average, 20% of interactions. To analyze the unexplained part, we introduce a latent term: each species is described by two latent traits, foraging and vulnerability, that represent nonmeasured characteristics of species once the optimal body size has been accounted for. The model now correctly predicts an average of 73% of links. The key features of our approach are that latent traits quantify the structure that is left unexplained by the explanatory variable and that this quantification allows a test of whether independent biological information, such as microhabitat use, camouflage, or phylogeny, explains this structure. We illustrate this method with phylogeny and find that it is linked to one or both latent traits in nine of 12 food webs. Our approach opens the door to the formulation of more complex models that can be applied to any kind of biological network.
Rudolf Philippe Rohr; Heike Scherer; Patrik Kehrli; Christian Mazza; Louis-Félix Bersier
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The American naturalist     Volume:  176     ISSN:  1537-5323     ISO Abbreviation:  Am. Nat.     Publication Date:  2010 Aug 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2010-07-08     Completed Date:  2010-10-20     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  2984688R     Medline TA:  Am Nat     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  170-7     Citation Subset:  IM    
Unit of Ecology and Evolution, University of Fribourg, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland.
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MeSH Terms
Bayes Theorem
Body Size
Food Chain*
Markov Chains
Models, Biological*
Monte Carlo Method
Predatory Behavior
Species Specificity

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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