Within ecosystems, we find a great diversity of interactions between living beings. Examples include predation, competition, cooperation, symbiosis, parasitism, etc. These interactions form trophic relationships between species that can be modeled as networks (set of nodes and links between these nodes).
Agricultural ecosystems are no exception. Indeed, in agrosystem the cycle of nutrients on which crop plants depend is influenced by numerous trophic interactions. The structural stability of trophic networks thus strongly influences the agronomic viability of agrosystems, as well as their long-term performance.
Today, ecological modelling offers new opportunities to link food network models with agronomic models and create innovative frameworks. The use of graph theory thus makes it possible to represent and link information about different intra- or interspecific interactions (between two or more individuals of the same species or between two or more individuals of different species).
In this spirit, we would like to build a graphical database (like Neo4j for example), able to manage a lot of interconnected information and with a simplified query language (NoSQL). This database should be used to identify the interactions between different animal and plant species in agricultural systems. It should also help to identify species missing from the network and thus guide the choice of crops within the framework of agro-ecological practices that promote diversity on farms.
The identification, through biotic interactions, of companion species could also contribute to biological control methods against harmful species and limit the use of pesticides in a long-term perspective.
To reflect together and discover how to identify predator-prey networks in order to create a system of recommendations to reconstitute a favourable ecosystem on an agricultural plot, join us on Tuesday 6 April at 5 pm on https://meet.jit.si/HACK4NATURE for the launch of the challenge!
Image Credit : García‐Callejas, D., Molowny‐Horas, R. and Araújo, M.B. (2018), Multiple interactions networks: towards more realistic descriptions of the web of life. Oikos, 127: 5-22. https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.04428