Ecological network analysis: network construction

Ecological network analysis (ENA) is a systems-oriented methodology to analyze within system interactions used to identify holistic properties that are otherwise not evident from the direct observations. Like any analysis technique, the accuracy of the results is as good as the data available, but the additional challenge is that the data need to characterize an entire ecosystem's flows and storages. Thus, data requirements are substantial. As a result, there have, in fact, not been a significant number of network models constructed and development of the network analysis methodology has progressed largely within the purview of a few established models. In this paper, we outline the steps for one approach to construct network models. Lastly, we also provide a brief overview of the algorithmic methods used to construct food web typologies when empirical data are not available. It is our aim that such an effort aids other researchers to consider the construction of such models as well as encourages further refinement of this procedure.