Disentangling co-occurrence patterns in n-partite ecosystems






A. Solé-Ribalta, J. Borge-Holthoefer, C.J. Tessone, C. G. Ferrari



The need to harmonise apparently irreconcilable arrangements in an ecosystem –nestedness and segregation– has triggered so far different strategies. Methodological refinements, or the inclusion of behavioural preferences to the network dynamics offer a limited approach to the problem, since one remains constrained within a 2-dimensional view of an ecosystem, i.e. a presence-absence matrix. Here we question this partial-view paradigm, and show that nestedness and segregation may coexist across a varied range of scenarios. To do so, we rely on an upscaled representation of an ecological community as an -partite hypergraph, inspired by Hutchinson’s high-dimensional niche concept and the latest trends on ecological multilayer networks. This yields an inclusive description of an ecological system, for which we develop a natural extension of the definition of nestedness to larger dimensional spaces, revealing how competitive exclusion may operate regardless of a highly nested bipartite system.