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Journal Articles Methods in Ecology and Evolution Year : 2022

An appraisal of graph embeddings for comparing trophic network architectures

Abstract

Comparing the architecture of interaction networks in space or time is essential for understanding the assembly, trajectory, functioning and persistence of species communities. Graph embedding methods, which position networks into a vector space where nearby networks have similar architectures, could be ideal tools for this purposes. Here, we evaluated the ability of seven graph embedding methods to disentangle architectural similarities of interactions networks for supervised and unsupervised posterior analytic tasks. The evaluation was carried out over a large number of simulated trophic networks representing variations around six ecological properties and size. We did not find an overall best method and instead showed that the performance of the methods depended on the targeted ecological properties and thus on the research questions. We also highlighted the importance of normalizing the embedding for network sizes for meaningful posterior unsupervised analyses. We concluded by orientating potential users to the most suited methods given the question, the targeted network ecological property, and outlined links between those ecological properties and three ecological processes: robustness to extinction, community persistence and ecosystem functioning. We hope this study will stimulate the appropriation of graph embedding methods by ecologists.
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Dates and versions

hal-03191630 , version 1 (07-04-2021)
hal-03191630 , version 2 (27-07-2021)

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Christophe Botella, Stéphane Dray, Catherine Matias, Vincent Miele, Wilfried Thuiller. An appraisal of graph embeddings for comparing trophic network architectures. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2022, 13 (1), pp.203-216. ⟨10.1111/2041-210X.13738⟩. ⟨hal-03191630v2⟩
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