Lattice-based versus lattice-free individual-based models: impact on coexistence in competitive communities
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Individual-based modelling is an increasingly popular framework for modelling biological systems. Many of these models represent space as a lattice, thus imposing unrealistic limitations on the movement of the modelled individuals. We adapt an existing model of three competing species by using a lattice-free approach, thereby improving the realism of the spatial dynamics. We retrieve the same qualitative dynamics as the lattice-based approach. However, by facilitating a higher spatial heterogeneity and allowing for small spatial refuges to form and persist, the maintenance of coexistence is promoted, in correspondence with experimental results. We also implement a directed movement mechanism allowing individuals of different species to pursue or flee from each other. Simulations show that the effects on coexistence depend on the level of aggregation in the community: a high level of aggregation is advantageous for maintaining coexistence, whereas a low level of aggregation is disadvantageous. This agrees with experimental results, where pursuing and escaping behaviour has been observed to be advantageous only in certain circumstances.
KeywordsCyclic competition Coexistence Individual-based model Directed movement
The authors acknowledge funding from a UGent–BOF GOA project “Assessing the biological capacity of ecosystem resilience” (Grant BOFGOA2017000601) and FWO grant number 3S79219. The computational resources (Stevin Supercomputer Infrastructure) and services used in this paper were provided by the VSC (Flemish Supercomputer Center), funded by Ghent University, the Hercules Foundation and the Flemish Government, department EWI.
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