Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2021, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (10): 1049-1063.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2019.0159

Special Issue: 生态系统结构与功能: 前沿与展望

• Reviews • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Assembly, ecosystem functions, and stability in species interaction networks

LI Hai-Dong1,2, WU Xin-Wei3, XIAO Zhi-Shu1,2,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents in Agriculture, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3School of Life Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China
  • Received:2019-06-25 Accepted:2019-10-04 Online:2021-10-20 Published:2020-11-30
  • Contact: XIAO Zhi-Shu
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(31770565);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31971441);Shanshuilintianhucao Ecological Restoration Pre-Project of Henan, and Central Forestry Reform and Development Fund(2019)


Varied species interactions form complex species interaction networks in diverse ecological communities. Understanding how the network structure affects ecosystem functions and community stability is one major issue for community ecology. Species interactions can directly affect the flow and circulation of matter and energy among different components of ecosystems. As a result, the network structure is closely related to the structure, stability, and functioning of ecological communities. Prior studies on interaction networks have shed light on community assembly, biodiversity maintenance, ecosystem stability, coevolution and trait diversification. Currently, biodiversity and ecosystem functions have been largely affected by global environmental changes. The interaction networks and their relationship with biodiversity loss in a changing world have become important research topics. Exploring the structure and assembly of species interaction networks, stability, and ecosystem functions is significant for understanding the maintenance mechanism and biodiversity conservation. Here, we reviewed the research advances in the structure of ecological networks and their determinants, network stability, the relationship between network and ecosystem functions, and the mechanisms underlying these relationships. We also suggest future research directions on how to apply machine learning and multilayer network to disentangle the effects of environmental change on network structure and ecosystem functions by integrated theoretical and empirical studies.

Key words: species interaction, food web, bipartite network, ecosystem function, stability