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Strange limits of stability in host-parasitoid systems

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The classical Nicholson-Bailey model for a two species host-parasitoid system with discrete generations assumes random distributions of both hosts and parasitoids, randomly searching parasitoids, and random encounters between the individuals of the two species. Although unstable, this model induced many investigations into more complex host-parasitoid systems. Local linearized stability analysis shows that equilibria of host parasitoid systems within the framework of a generalized Nicholson-Bailey model are generally unstable. Stability is only possible if host fertility does not exceede 4=54.5982 and if superparasitism is unsuccessful. This special situation has already been discovered by Hassell et al. (1983) in their study of the effects of variable sex ratios on host parasitoid dynamics. We discuss global behaviour of the Hassell-Waage-May model using KAM-theory and illustrate its sensitivity to small perturbations, which can give rise to radically different patterns of the population dynamics of interacting hosts and parasitoids.

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Meier, C., Senn, W., Hauser, R. et al. Strange limits of stability in host-parasitoid systems. J. Math. Biology 32, 563–572 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00573461

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Key words

  • Nicholson-Bailey model
  • KAM-theory
  • Birkhoff
  • Limit cycle