Velocity fluctuations of population fronts propagating into metastable states

Baruch Meerson*, Pavel V. Sasorov, Yitzhak Kaplan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The position of propagating population fronts fluctuates because of the discreteness of the individuals and stochastic character of processes of birth, death, and migration. Here we consider a Markov model of a population front propagating into a metastable state, and focus on the weak noise limit. For typical, small fluctuations the front motion is diffusive, and we calculate the front diffusion coefficient. We also determine the probability distribution of rare, large fluctuations of the front position and, for a given average front velocity, find the most likely population density profile of the front. Implications of the theory for population extinction risk are briefly considered.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number011147
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Jul 2011


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