Wang, Xiangrong; Thomas Peron; Johan L. A. Dubbeldam; Sonia Kefi and Yamir Moreno
Mutualistic networks have attracted increasing attention in the ecological literature in the last decades as they play a key role in the maintenance of biodiversity. Here, we develop an analytical framework to study the structural stability of these networks including both mutualistic and competitive interactions. Analytical and numerical analyses show that the structure of the competitive network fundamentally alters the necessary conditions for species coexistence in communities. Us- ing 50 real mutualistic networks, we show that when the relative importance of shared partners is incorporated via weighted competition, the feasibility area in the parameter space is highly correlated with May’s stability criteria and can be predicted by a functional relationship between the number of species, the network connectance and the average interaction strength in the community. Our work reopens a decade-long debate about the complexity-stability relationship in ecological communities, and highlights the role of the relative structures of different interaction types.