Ecology is proving to be an innovative source for design principles. Studies have examined how ecological principles can enhance sustainability in industrial networks. Ecologically-inspired manufacturing networks tend to focus on supporting symbiotic relationship formation, creating a cyclical flow structure that has been shown to result in efficiency and resource consumption improvements. Despite successes, bio-inspired manufacturing networks still fail to accurately mimic ecosystem cycling. The roles of exclusive actors and specialized predators in achieving the high cycling characteristic of ecosystems is investigated here. Exclusive actors participate in the network as either only a consumer (predator) or only a producer (prey). Specialized predators consume only one producer inside the system boundary. The populations of these special actors in manufacturing networks versus ecological food webs speaks to the potential influence these roles have on the cycling the network achieves. The trends shown here suggest less exclusivity is necessary for achieving ecologically-strong network cycling.

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