Article open access publication

Ecological, historical and evolutionary determinants of modularity in weighted seed‐dispersal networks

Ecology Letters, Wiley, ISSN 1461-023X

Volume 17, 4, 2014

DOI:10.1111/ele.12245, Dimensions: pub.1012457927, PMID: 24467289,



  1. (1) Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK‐F) and Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung Senckenberganlage 25 Frankfurt am Main Germany
  2. (2) Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, grid.6451.6
  3. (3) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  4. (4) University of Melbourne, grid.1008.9
  5. (5) Martin‐Luther‐University, Halle‐Wittenberg Institute for Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden Halle (Saale) Germany
  6. (6) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU
  7. (7) Goethe University Frankfurt, grid.7839.5
  8. (8) University of Freiburg, grid.5963.9


Modularity is a recurrent and important property of bipartite ecological networks. Although well-resolved ecological networks describe interaction frequencies between species pairs, modularity of bipartite networks has been analysed only on the basis of binary presence-absence data. We employ a new algorithm to detect modularity in weighted bipartite networks in a global analysis of avian seed-dispersal networks. We define roles of species, such as connector values, for weighted and binary networks and associate them with avian species traits and phylogeny. The weighted, but not binary, analysis identified a positive relationship between climatic seasonality and modularity, whereas past climate stability and phylogenetic signal were only weakly related to modularity. Connector values were associated with foraging behaviour and were phylogenetically conserved. The weighted modularity analysis demonstrates the dominating impact of ecological factors on the structure of seed-dispersal networks, but also underscores the relevance of evolutionary history in shaping species roles in ecological communities.


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Times Cited: 103

Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 14.8

Relative Citation ratio (RCR): 2.19

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