Fitness consequences of centrality in mutualistic individual-based networks.


The relationships among the members of a population can be visualized using individual networks, where each individual is a node connected to each other by means of links describing the interactions. The centrality of a given node captures its importance within the network. We hypothesize that in mutualistic networks, the centrality of a node should benefit its fitness. We test this idea studying eight individual-based networks originated from the interaction between Erysimum mediohispanicum and its flower visitors. In these networks, each plant was considered a node and was connected to conspecifics sharing flower visitors. Centrality indicates how well connected is a given E. mediohispanicum individual with the rest of the co-occurring conspecifics because of sharing flower visitors. The centrality was estimated by three network metrics: betweenness, closeness and degree. The complex relationship between centrality, phenotype and fitness was explored by structural equation modelling. We found that the centrality of a plant was related to its fitness, with plants occupying central positions having higher fitness than those occupying peripheral positions. The structural equation models (SEMs) indicated that the centrality effect on fitness was not merely an effect of the abundance of visits and the species richness of visitors. Centrality has an effect even when simultaneously accounting for these predictors. The SEMs also indicated that the centrality effect on fitness was because of the specific phenotype of each plant, with attractive plants occupying central positions in networks, in relation to the distribution of conspecific phenotypes. This finding suggests that centrality, owing to its dependence on social interactions, may be an appropriate surrogate for the interacting phenotype of individuals.

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2244

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@article{Gmez2012FitnessCO, title={Fitness consequences of centrality in mutualistic individual-based networks.}, author={Jos{\'e} M. G{\'o}mez and Francisco Perfectti}, journal={Proceedings. Biological sciences}, year={2012}, volume={279 1734}, pages={1754-60} }