Over the last decades, network-based approaches have become highly popular in diverse fields of biology, including neuroscience, ecology, molecular biology and genetics. While these approaches continue to grow very rapidly, some of their conceptual and methodological aspects still require a programmatic foundation. This challenge particularly concerns the question of whether a generalized account of explanatory, organizational and descriptive levels of networks can be applied universally across biological sciences. To this end, this highly interdisciplinary theme issue focuses on the definition, motivation and application of key concepts in biological network science, such as explanatory power of distinctively network explanations, network levels and network hierarchies.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Unifying the essential concepts of biological networks: biological insights and philosophical foundations’.
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