Comprehensive phase diagram for logistic populations in fluctuating environment

Yitzhak Yahalom, Bnaya Steinmetz, Nadav M. Shnerb

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13 Scopus citations


Population dynamics reflects an underlying birth-death process, where the rates associated with different events may depend on external environmental conditions and on the population density. A whole family of simple and popular deterministic models (such as logistic growth) supports a transcritical bifurcation point between an extinction phase and an active phase. Here we provide a comprehensive analysis of the phases of that system, taking into account both the endogenous demographic noise (random birth and death events) and the effect of environmental stochasticity that causes variations in birth and death rates. Three phases are identified: in the inactive phase the mean time to extinction T is independent of the carrying capacity N and scales logarithmically with the initial population size. In the power-law phase T∼Nq, and in the exponential phase T∼exp(αN). All three phases and the transitions between them are studied in detail. The breakdown of the continuum approximation is identified inside the power-law phase, and the accompanying changes in decline modes are analyzed. The applicability of the emerging picture to the analysis of ecological time series and to the management of conservation efforts is briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062417
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
StatePublished - 27 Jun 2019

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© 2019 American Physical Society.


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