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Experimental evidence for nature's hidden network of higher-order interactions
  • Milton Barbosa,
  • G. Fernandes,
  • Rebecca Morris
Milton Barbosa
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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G. Fernandes
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
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Rebecca Morris
University of Southampton
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Transcending pairwise interactions in ecological networks remains a challenge. Higher-order interactions, the modulation of a pairwise interaction by a third species, have so far only been demonstrated in models or small isolated systems. Their ubiquity at a community level remains unknown. Using field experiments, we tested how multiple interactions within a network changed with species composition by reducing the densities of distinct species in a diverse arthropod community. We revealed an extensive hidden network of higher-order interactions modifying each other and the “visible” direct interactions. Most pairwise interactions were affected by the manipulation of a non-interacting taxonomic group. The pervasiveness of these interaction modifications challenges pairwise approaches to understanding interaction outcomes and could shift our thinking about the structure and resilience of ecological communities.
Published in SSRN Electronic Journal. 10.2139/ssrn.4162084