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Parasites Affect Food Web Structure Primarily through Increased Diversity and Complexity

Overview of attention for article published in PLoS Biology, June 2013
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (92nd percentile)

Mentioned by

news
8 news outlets
blogs
5 blogs
policy
1 policy source
twitter
27 tweeters
facebook
1 Facebook page
googleplus
1 Google+ user

Readers on

mendeley
393 Mendeley
citeulike
1 CiteULike
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Title
Parasites Affect Food Web Structure Primarily through Increased Diversity and Complexity
Published in
PLoS Biology, June 2013
DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001579
Pubmed ID
Authors

Jennifer A. Dunne, Kevin D. Lafferty, Andrew P. Dobson, Ryan F. Hechinger, Armand M. Kuris, Neo D. Martinez, John P. McLaughlin, Kim N. Mouritsen, Robert Poulin, Karsten Reise, Daniel B. Stouffer, David W. Thieltges, Richard J. Williams, Claus Dieter Zander

Abstract

Comparative research on food web structure has revealed generalities in trophic organization, produced simple models, and allowed assessment of robustness to species loss. These studies have mostly focused on free-living species. Recent research has suggested that inclusion of parasites alters structure. We assess whether such changes in network structure result from unique roles and traits of parasites or from changes to diversity and complexity. We analyzed seven highly resolved food webs that include metazoan parasite data. Our analyses show that adding parasites usually increases link density and connectance (simple measures of complexity), particularly when including concomitant links (links from predators to parasites of their prey). However, we clarify prior claims that parasites "dominate" food web links. Although parasites can be involved in a majority of links, in most cases classic predation links outnumber classic parasitism links. Regarding network structure, observed changes in degree distributions, 14 commonly studied metrics, and link probabilities are consistent with scale-dependent changes in structure associated with changes in diversity and complexity. Parasite and free-living species thus have similar effects on these aspects of structure. However, two changes point to unique roles of parasites. First, adding parasites and concomitant links strongly alters the frequency of most motifs of interactions among three taxa, reflecting parasites' roles as resources for predators of their hosts, driven by trophic intimacy with their hosts. Second, compared to free-living consumers, many parasites' feeding niches appear broader and less contiguous, which may reflect complex life cycles and small body sizes. This study provides new insights about generic versus unique impacts of parasites on food web structure, extends the generality of food web theory, gives a more rigorous framework for assessing the impact of any species on trophic organization, identifies limitations of current food web models, and provides direction for future structural and dynamical models.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 27 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 393 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 7 2%
France 5 1%
Mexico 4 1%
Spain 4 1%
Brazil 4 1%
South Africa 3 <1%
United Kingdom 3 <1%
Switzerland 2 <1%
New Zealand 2 <1%
Other 8 2%
Unknown 351 89%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 101 26%
Researcher 73 19%
Student > Master 56 14%
Student > Bachelor 31 8%
Student > Doctoral Student 31 8%
Other 71 18%
Unknown 30 8%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 245 62%
Environmental Science 61 16%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 10 3%
Earth and Planetary Sciences 9 2%
Medicine and Dentistry 8 2%
Other 21 5%
Unknown 39 10%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 119. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 08 January 2015.
All research outputs
#161,803
of 15,308,819 outputs
Outputs from PLoS Biology
#427
of 4,556 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#1,545
of 156,955 outputs
Outputs of similar age from PLoS Biology
#5
of 68 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,308,819 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 4,556 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 50.4. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 90% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 156,955 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 68 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 92% of its contemporaries.