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Identifying flow modules in ecological networks using Infomap

By Carmel Farage, Daniel Edler, Anna Eklöf, Martin Rosvall, Shai Pilosof

Posted 14 Apr 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.14.040519

Analysing how species interact in modules is a fundamental problem in network ecology. Theory shows that a modular network structure can reveal underlying dynamic ecological and evolutionary processes, influence dynamics that operate on the network and affect the stability of the ecological system. Although many ecological networks describe flows, such as biomass flows in food webs or disease transmission, most modularity analyses have ignored network flows, which can hinder our understanding of the interplay between structure and dynamics. Here we present Infomap, an established method based on network flows to the field of ecological networks. Infomap is a flexible tool that can identify modules in virtually any type of ecological network and is particularly useful for directed, weighted and multilayer networks. We illustrate how Infomap works on all these network types. We also provide a fully documented repository with additional ecological examples. Finally, to help researchers analyse their networks with Infomap, we introduce the open source R package infomapecology. Analysing flow-based modularity is useful across ecology and transcends to other biological and non-biological disciplines. A dynamic approach for detecting modular structure has strong potential to provide new insights into the organisation of ecological networks. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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