Persistent coexistence of cyclically competing species in spatially extended ecosystems

Junpyo Park, Younghae Do, Zi Gang Huang, Ying-Cheng Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A fundamental result in the evolutionary-game paradigm of cyclic competition in spatially extended ecological systems, as represented by the classic Reichenbach-Mobilia-Frey (RMF) model, is that high mobility tends to hamper or even exclude species coexistence. This result was obtained under the hypothesis that individuals move randomly without taking into account the suitability of their local environment. We incorporate local habitat suitability into the RMF model and investigate its effect on coexistence. In particular, we hypothesize the use of "basic instinct" of an individual to determine its movement at any time step. That is, an individual is more likely to move when the local habitat becomes hostile and is no longer favorable for survival and growth. We show that, when such local habitat suitability is taken into account, robust coexistence can emerge even in the high-mobility regime where extinction is certain in the RMF model. A surprising finding is that coexistence is accompanied by the occurrence of substantial empty space in the system. Reexamination of the RMF model confirms the necessity and the important role of empty space in coexistence. Our study implies that adaptation/movements according to local habitat suitability are a fundamental factor to promote species coexistence and, consequently, biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number023128
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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