Sharp changes in resource availability may induce spatial nearly periodic population abundances

Adam Lampert*, Alan Hastings

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


For many years, scientists have tried to understand the ubiquitous discrete nature of traits. As the emergence of nonuniform patterns in space via instability of the uniform pattern to spatial perturbations is well-understood in reaction-diffusion systems, several studies have suggested that a similar instability underlies discrete distributions of traits. In contrast, here we suggest that a different mechanism may underly species' discrete distributions of trait values. We show that a point where niche availability changes sharply along the continuous niche axis promotes the discretized distribution of trait values even far from that point. In certain cases, this mechanism may apply also to patterns of population densities over space, such as patterns that were observed in vegetation biomass, as locations where environment changes sharply may promote spatially, nearly periodic stationary patterns.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)80-83
Number of pages4
JournalEcological Complexity
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Arik Yochelis, Mats Gyllenberg, Thomas Schoener and John Hunter for helpful discussions, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. This research was supported by NSF grant DEB 1009957 to A.H.


  • Character displacement
  • Community assembly
  • Self-organization
  • Species packing


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