Ecological systems have been understood as networks for at least the 150 years since Darwin famously articulated the “tangled banks” within which interacting species live, reproduce and evolve. However, ecologists have only recently returned to the network concept having long preferred more reductionist approaches focused on simpler frameworks typically including fewer components and types of interactions. This more recent network approach integrates much of what has been learned about these components including their interaction patterns and metabolic scaling with body size to successfully predict the complex structure and nonlinear dynamics of ecological systems. The mechanistic basis of this integration consists of consumer-resource interactions among organisms including plants, animals, fungi, microbes and their environment. Effects including competition, mutualism and impacts of species loss and invasion emerge from these mechanisms which allows better understanding and prediction of the sustainability of ecological systems including and excluding humans. This presentation will describe this approach to ecological sustainability based on human-natural networks of consumer-resource interactions as well as several of its more notable achievements regarding the structure and dynamics of food webs, pollination networks and fisheries. Both the scientific synthesis of ecological subdisciplines from organismal through population, community and ecosystem levels and the application of these advances to further integration with social sciences in order to manage ecosystems such as fisheries and grasslands will be highlighted.