Population extinction under bursty reproduction in a time-modulated environment

Ohad Vilk, Michael Assaf

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6 Scopus citations


In recent years nondemographic variability has been shown to greatly affect dynamics of stochastic populations. For example, nondemographic noise in the form of a bursty reproduction process with an a priori unknown burst size, or environmental variability in the form of time-varying reaction rates, have been separately found to dramatically impact the extinction risk of isolated populations. In this work we investigate the extinction risk of an isolated population under the combined influence of these two types of nondemographic variation. Using the so-called momentum-space Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) approach and accounting for the explicit time dependence in the reaction rates, we arrive at a set of time-dependent Hamilton equations. To this end, we evaluate the population's extinction risk by finding the instanton of the time-perturbed Hamiltonian numerically, whereas analytical expressions are presented in particular limits using various perturbation techniques. We focus on two classes of time-varying environments: periodically varying rates corresponding to seasonal effects and a sudden decrease in the birth rate corresponding to a catastrophe. All our theoretical results are tested against numerical Monte Carlo simulations with time-dependent rates and also against a numerical solution of the corresponding time-dependent Hamilton equations.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number062114
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
StatePublished - 6 Jun 2018

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© 2018 American Physical Society.


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