- The response of biodiversity to environmental changes, such as global warming, is dependent not only on the sensitivity of individual species to drivers of change, but also on the extent to which species are dependent on each other. There is a need to better understand the importance of the latter, in order to develop a better understanding of which habitats, ecosystems, communities and species may be most vulnerable to the impact of environmental change. This should, in turn, inform mitigation and adaptation policy, and provide evidence to programmes such as the UK’s Climate Risk Assessment.
- There is increasing scientific interest in approaches to quantify the structural characteristics of food webs and functional relationships between species, so that hypotheses concerning the importance of community structure for the resilience of ecosystems to environmental pressures can be evaluated objectively.
- The high frequency and taxonomic detail of several ECN datasets provide excellent opportunities to explore variation (between sites and over time) in community structure, and its importance in underpinning ecological resilience.
- In this study ECN carabid data were used to explore the potential of a Bayesian Network approach to study interspecific relationships among carabid beetles at two ECN upland sites, Glensaugh and Sourhope.
- The authors conclude that Bayesian networks are effective tools for modelling interspecific relationships between carabid species.
- Given the relative ease by which the necessary field data can be collected, it is proposed that similar methods could be used routinely to inform ecological assessments and conservation plans.
Reference: Pozsgai, G., Baird, J., Littlewood, NA., Pakeman, RJ. and Young, M. (2016). Interspecific networks in ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae) assemblages. Ecological Indicators, 68, 134-141. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.11.031.