Pattern, process, scale, and model's sensitivity: Comment on "Phase separation driven by density-dependent movement: A novel mechanism for ecological patterns" by Quan-Xing Liu et al.
journal contributionposted on 2016-11-29, 16:09 authored by Sergei Petrovskii
Spatial distribution of ecological populations is rarely homogeneous. Typically, the population density exhibits considerable variability of space, in an extreme yet not uncommon case creating a “patchy” pattern where areas of high population density alternate with areas where the population density is much lower or close to zero . This phenomenon, often generically referred to as ecological patterning or ecological pattern formation, has long been a focus of interest in ecology and a number of theories and models have been developed aiming to explain it under different ecological and/or environmental conditions and on different spatial and temporal scales; see Table 1. A straightforward explanation of the heterogeneous distribution of population density relates it to the heterogeneity of the environment (e.g. to nonuniform distribution of resources) and this is indeed often the case . However, a closer look reveals that this is not enough and in many cases the heterogeneity of population density is only weakly correlated to the heterogeneity of the environment  and . Understanding that biological interactions play, on the relevant spatial and temporal scales , as important role in shaping the ecological patterns as the physical/chemical forcing resulted in a number of theories. The earliest one that used the idea of Turing's instability  was followed by several others ,  and  including theories where pattern formation was due to a non-Turing mechanism  and  and theories where the movement behavior and/or density dependence was an essential factor  and .
CitationPhysics of Life Reviews, 2016
Author affiliation/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Mathematics
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)