The natural world is filled with networks. Predator and prey, flower and pollinator—each interacting pair forms a link in a networked community of organisms.
Now, a French research team has developed a model that explores how evolution may help shape these ecological networks over time as species interact in either antagonistic or mutually beneficial ways. The recent findings, reported in Ecology Letters, suggest that evolution could help explain common patterns that scientists find in ecological networks today. “We don’t actually have a lot of ways to observe the assembly of networks,” says ecologist and evolutionary biologist Jeremy Yoder of California State University, Northridge, who was not involved in the study. “We don’t really know what [a network’s] history is.”