Consequences of population models on the dynamics of food chains.

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Abstract

A class of bioenergetic ecological models is studied for the dynamics of food chains with a nutrient at the base. A constant influx rate of the nutrient and a constant efflux rate for all trophic levels is assumed. Starting point is a simple model where prey is converted into predator with a fixed efficiency. This model is extended by the introduction of maintenance and energy reserves at all trophic levels, with two state variables for each trophic level, biomass and reserve energy. Then the dynamics of each population are described by two ordinary differential equations. For all models the bifurcation diagram for the bi-trophic food chain is simple. There are three important regions; a region where the predator goes to extinction, a region where there is a stable equilibrium and a region where a stable limit cycle exists. Bifurcation diagrams for tri-trophic food chains are more complicated. Flip bifurcation curves mark regions where complex dynamic behaviour (higher periodic limit cycles as well as chaotic attractors) can occur. We show numerically that Shil'nikov homoclinic orbits to saddle-focus equilibria exists. The codimension 1 continuations of these orbits from a 'skeleton' for a cascade of flip and tangent bifurcations. The bifurcation analysis facilitates the study of the consequences of the population model for the dynamic behaviour of a food chain. Although the predicted transient dynamics of a food chain may depend sensitively on the underlying model for the populations, the global picture of the bifurcation diagram for the different models is about the same.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-124
Number of pages25
JournalMathematical Biosciences
Volume153
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1998

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