Pattern formation in a model of competing populations with nonlocal interactions

B. L. Segal, V. A. Volpert, A. Bayliss*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


We analyze and compute an extension of a previously developed population model based on the well-known diffusive logistic equation with nonlocal interaction, to a system involving competing species. Our model involves a system of nonlinear integro-differential equations, with the nonlocal interaction characterized by convolution integrals of the population densities against specified kernel functions. The extent of the nonlocal coupling is characterized by a parameter δ so that when δ→0 the problem becomes local. We consider critical points of the model, i.e., spatially homogeneous equilibrium solutions. There is generally one critical point in the first quadrant (i.e., both population densities positive), denoting coexistence of the two species. We show that this solution can be destabilized by the nonlocal coupling and obtain general conditions for stability of this critical point as a function of δ, the specific kernel function and parameters of the model. We study the nonlinear behavior of the model and show that the populations can evolve to localized cells, or islands. We find that the stability transition is supercritical. Near the stability boundary solutions are small amplitude, nearly sinusoidal oscillations, however, when δ increases large amplitude, nonlinear states are found. We find a multiplicity of stable, steady state patterns. We further show that with a stepfunction kernel function the structure of these islands, a highly nonlinear phenomenon, can be described analytically. Finally, we analyze the role of the kernel function and show that for some choices of kernel function the resulting population islands can exhibit tip-splitting behavior and island amplitude modulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
StatePublished - Jun 15 2013


  • Competing populations
  • Multiplicity
  • Nonlocal model
  • Pattern formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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