Temporal dynamics and network analysis


Correspondence author. E-mail: bblonder@email.arizona.edu


1. Network analysis is widely used in diverse fields and can be a powerful framework for studying the structure of biological systems. Temporal dynamics are a key issue for many ecological and evolutionary questions. These dynamics include both changes in network topology and flow on the network. Network analyses that ignore or do not adequately account for the temporal dynamics can result in inappropriate inferences.

2. We suggest that existing methods are currently under-utilized in many ecological and evolutionary network analyses and that the broader incorporation of these methods will considerably advance the current field. Our goal is to introduce ecologists and evolutionary biologists interested in studying network dynamics to extant ideas and methodological approaches, at a level appropriate for those new to the field.

3. We present an overview of time-ordered networks, which provide a framework for analysing network dynamics that addresses multiple inferential issues and permits novel types of temporally informed network analyses. We review available methods and software, discuss the utility and considerations of different approaches, provide a worked example analysis and highlight new research opportunities in ecology and evolutionary biology.