PerspectiveEcology

Society, Where None Intrudes

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Science  14 Mar 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6176, pp. 1213-1214
DOI: 10.1126/science.1251275

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Summary

Explaining the diversity and structure of networks of interacting species is one of the main challenges in modern ecology. Even building the food webs needed to understand how these networks are structured can be a massive undertaking, especially in the tropics, where diversity is highest and understanding of the taxonomy of the species involved is often poor. However, progress has been made with communities of plant-eating insects and the specialized insects that feed on them, in particular parasitic wasps. On page 1240 of this issue, Condon et al. (1) combine field ecology and molecular biology to describe the structure of a self-contained community of tropical plant-eating flies and the wasps that attack them. The results reveal an unexpectedly intricate community structure.