Diversity indices for ecological networks: a unifying framework using Hill numbers.


Describing how ecological interactions change over space and time and how they are shaped by environmental conditions is crucial to understand and predict ecosystem trajectories. However, it requires having an appropriate framework to measure network diversity locally, regionally and between samples (a-, c- and b-diversity). Here, we propose a unifying framework that builds on Hill numbers and accounts both for the probabilistic nature of biotic interactions and the abundances of species or groups. We emphasise the importance of analysing network diversity across different species aggregation levels (e.g. from species to trophic groups) to get a better understanding of network structure. We illustrate our framework with a simulation experiment and an empirical analysis using a global food-web database. We discuss further usages of the framework and show how it responds to recent calls on comparing ecological networks and analysing their variation across environmental gradients and time.

Ecology Letters (Methods)