How are ecological systems assembled? Identifying common structural patterns within complex networks of interacting species has been a major challenge in ecology, but past research has focused primarily on single interaction types aggregated in space or time. In this new study, our team shed light on the assembly rules of a multilayer network of frugivory and nectarivory interactions between bats and plants in the Neotropics. We described a massive network whose parts differ from the whole, or a compound structure that appears to be assembled by different processes –from evolutionary constraints to functional morphology– at various scales. You can read more about these exciting findings in our paper here, and a wonderful “behind the scenes” summary here.

The hierarchical assembly of a continent-wide, multilayer network of bats and plants (credit: Marco Mello).


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Videos from the Santana Lab at the University of Washington. We study morphology, behavior and ecology in bats and other mammals.

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