Abstract : Phylogenetic networks were introduced to describe evolution in the presence of exchanges of genetic material between coexisting species or individuals. Split networks in particular were introduced as a special kind of abstract network to visualize conflicts between phylogenetic trees which may correspond to such exchanges. More recently, methods were designed to reconstruct explicit phylogenetic networks (whose vertices can be interpreted as biological events) from triplet data. In this article, we link abstract and explicit networks through their combinatorial properties, by introducing the unrooted analogue of level-k networks. In particular, we give an equivalence theorem between circular split systems and unrooted level-1 networks. We also show how to adapt to quartets some existing results on triplets, in order to reconstruct unrooted level-k phylogenetic networks. These results give an interesting perspective on the combinatorics of phylogenetic networks and also raise algorithmic and combinatorial questions.