Reichenbach, Tobias; Frey, Erwin (August 2008): Instability of spatial patterns and its ambiguous impact on species diversity. In: Physical Review Letters, Vol. 101, Nr. 5: 058102-1-058102-4




Self-arrangement of individuals into spatial patterns often accompanies and promotes species diversity in ecological systems. Here, we investigate pattern formation arising from cyclic dominance of three species, operating near a bifurcation point. In its vicinity, an Eckhaus instability occurs, leading to convectively unstable "blurred" patterns. At the bifurcation point, stochastic effects dominate and induce counterintuitive effects on diversity: Large patterns, emerging for medium values of individuals' mobility, lead to rapid species extinction, while small patterns (low mobility) promote diversity, and high mobilities render spatial structures irrelevant. We provide a quantitative analysis of these phenomena, employing a complex Ginzburg-Landau equation.