Abstract : Evolution is usually described as a phylogenetic tree, but due to some exchange of genetic material, it can be represented as a phylogenetic network which has an underlying tree structure. The notion of level was recently introduced as a parameter on realistic kinds of phylogenetic networks to express their complexity and tree-likeness. We study the structure of level-k networks, and how they can be decomposed into level-k generators. We also provide a polynomial time algorithm which takes as input the set of level-k generators and builds the set of level-(k+1) generators. Finally, with a simulation study, we evaluate the proportion of level-k phylogenetic networks among networks generated according to the coalescent model with recombination.