Travelling waves due to negative plant–soil feedbacks in a model including tree life-stages

Annalisa Iuorio, Mara Baudena, Maarten B. Eppinga, Francesco Giannino, Max Rietkerk, Frits Veerman

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


The emergence and maintenance of tree species diversity in tropical forests is commonly attributed to the Janzen–Connell (JC) hypothesis, which states that growth of seedlings is suppressed in the proximity of conspecific adult trees. As a result, a JC distribution due to a density-dependent negative feedback emerges in the form of a (transient) pattern where conspecific seedling density is highest at intermediate distances away from parent trees. Several studies suggest that the required density-dependent feedbacks behind this pattern could result from interactions between trees and soil-borne pathogens. However, negative plant–soil feedback may involve additional mechanisms, including the accumulation of autotoxic compounds generated through tree litter decomposition. An essential task therefore consists in constructing mathematical models incorporating both effects showing the ability to support the emergence of JC distributions. In this work, we develop and analyse a novel reaction–diffusion-ODE model, describing the interactions within tropical tree species across different life stages (seeds, seedlings, and adults) as driven by negative plant–soil feedback. In particular, we show that under strong negative plant–soil feedback travelling wave solutions exist, creating transient distributions of adult trees and seedlings that are in agreement with the Janzen–Connell hypothesis. Moreover, we show that these travelling wave solutions are pulled fronts and a robust feature as they occur over a broad parameter range. Finally, we calculate their linear spreading speed and show its (in)dependence on relevant nondimensional parameters.

FachzeitschriftMathematical Biosciences
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Feb. 2024

ÖFOS 2012

  • 101028 Mathematische Modellierung
  • 101027 Dynamische Systeme
  • 106050 Vegetationskunde
  • 101004 Biomathematik