Connectivity and information transfer in flow networks: Two magic numbers in ecology?
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An ecosystem can be visualized as a graph of certain preassigned trophic compartments; these nodes are then mutually connected through the internal exchanges of material and energy. The mathematical theory of information can be applied to such a graph in order to define two relevant indices: a measure of connectivity (the entropy H of the connections) and a measure of the degree of the “energetic” specialization (the internal transfer of informationI). The computation of these indices in stationary real cases suggests that the observed complexity of ecosystems is conditioned by two competing effects. The first can be interpreted as a “thermodynamical” principle related to the unavoidable irreversibility taking place inside the system, whereas the second can be taken as a “biological” principle concerned with the selection of some particular interactions: those which maximize the information circulating between the compartments.
KeywordsInformation Transfer Interaction Matrix Flow Network Internal Transfer Mirror Lake
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