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Title: An ecological network approach to predict ecosystem service vulnerability to species losses
Abstract Human-driven threats are changing biodiversity, impacting ecosystem services. The loss of one species can trigger secondary extinctions of additional species, because species interact–yet the consequences of these secondary extinctions for services remain underexplored. Herein, we compare robustness of food webs and the ecosystem services (hereafter ‘services’) they provide; and investigate factors determining service responses to secondary extinctions. Simulating twelve extinction scenarios for estuarine food webs with seven services, we find that food web and service robustness are highly correlated, but that robustness varies across services depending on their trophic level and redundancy. Further, we find that species providing services do not play a critical role in stabilizing food webs – whereas species playing supporting roles in services through interactions are critical to the robustness of both food webs and services. Together, our results reveal indirect risks to services through secondary species losses and predictable differences in vulnerability across services.
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Award ID(s):
2049360 2049304
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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