We might commonly say we live in a complex and interconnected world, and even though this tends to be a fairly consensual statement, there's no better way to grasp the extend of nature's convolutedness than to look at the interdependency of its innumerous ecosystems. The images shown here are renderings of the metanetwork for the San Francisco Bay food web. The network consists of 163 nodes, each node being a guild. In total, they represent approximately 1,600 species of invertebrates and fish, as well as four nodes representing various types of autotrophic producers. There are 5,024 links or trophic interactions between the guilds. The dataset currently excludes birds and marine mammals.
The second image, representing the same metanetwork, uses a different drawing algorithm, which arranges guilds hierarchically instead of in a circular fashion. Primary producer guilds are at the bottom, and top predators at the top.
As Rachel Hertog's professor Peter D. Roopnarine asks in his blog: "So, when faced with this level of complexity, how does one determine if the system is resilient, or vulnerable to the removal or addition of specific types of species, or can withstand the effects of climate change?"