Patterns of invasive species spread in a landscape with a complex geometry

2018-01-08T16:34:27Z (GMT) by Weam Alharbi Sergei Petrovskii
Patterns and rates of invasive species spread have been a focus of attention for several decades. Majority of studies focused on the species proliferation in a relatively uniform "open space" thus leaving aside the effects of the landscape geometry as given by size and shape of inaccessible areas. In this paper, we address this issue by considering the spatiotemporal dynamics of an alien species in a domain where two large uniform habitats are connected by a narrow corridor. We consider the case where the species is originally introduced into one of the habitats but not to the other. The alien species is assumed to be affected by a predator, so that mathematically our system consists of two coupled diffusion-reaction equations. We show that the corridor tends to slow down the spread: it takes the alien population an extra time to penetrate through the corridor, and this delay time can be significant in the case of patchy spread. We also show that a sufficiently narrow corridor blocks the spread; simple analytical estimates for the critical width of the corridor are obtained. Finally, we show that the corridor can become a refuge for the alien population. If considered on a longer timescale that includes species adaptation and/or climate change, the corridor may then become a source of a secondary invasion.