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Species's traits and network topology drive the robustness of a marine food web to species removal
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  • Laurène Merillet,
  • Marianne Robert,
  • Pierre-Yves Hernvann,
  • Laurène Pecuchet,
  • Sandrine Pavoine,
  • Maud Mouchet,
  • Raul Primicerio,
  • Dorothée Kopp
Laurène Merillet
French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea
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Marianne Robert
French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea
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Pierre-Yves Hernvann
Ecology and Health of Ecosystems
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Laurène Pecuchet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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Sandrine Pavoine
National Museum for Natural History
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Maud Mouchet
Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle
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Raul Primicerio
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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Dorothée Kopp
French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea
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Abstract

The analysis of the dynamics of interaction networks (i.e. trophic webs) better capture the state of ecosystem facing a perturbation than individual species dynamics could. We propose a framework that examines network robustness to a given perturbation at the local (species), mesoscale (species directly linked together) and global (network) level, based on traits and the topology of the network. Using the Celtic Sea as an example, we showed that the network was the least robust to the simulated loss of forage taxa and the most exposed taxa to fishing pressure, indicating conservation priority could be focused on these taxa. However estimating the sensitivity to fishing at the taxa ‘level was insufficient to predict the robustness of the network. The network appeared relatively robust to the simulated loss of the most central taxa, suggesting that mesoscale metrics such as centrality, although widely used, are not always adapted to prioritize species conservation.