Neutral phenotypes as network keystone species

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The concept of network keystone species is proposed. A set of phenotypes constitute a network that acts as a functional keystone. When an ecosystem forms a large, complex network that changes temporally, it is generally difficult to tell which will become a keystone species. Based on simulations of abstract ecosystems, phenotypes were classified to show that neutral phenotypes, or slowly reproducing phenotypes, are candidates for keystone species. I show that the removal of neutral phenotypes breaks up an attractor state and produces significant impacts on the stability of an attractor, in spite of small population size. The effect of partial removal of neutral phenotypes, and the combinatorial effects of keystone species, are reported in detail.

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