The existence of localized vegetation patterns in a systematically reduced model for dryland vegetation

Olfa Jaïbi, Arjen Doelman, Martina Chirilus-Bruckner, Ehud Meron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In this paper we consider the 2-component reaction–diffusion model that was recently obtained by a systematic reduction of the 3-component Gilad et al. model for dryland ecosystem dynamics (Gilad et al., 2004). The nonlinear structure of this model is more involved than other more conceptual models, such as the extended Klausmeier model, and the analysis a priori is more complicated. However, the present model has a strong advantage over these more conceptual models in that it can be more directly linked to ecological mechanisms and observations. Moreover, we find that the model exhibits a richness of analytically tractable patterns that exceeds that of Klausmeier-type models. Our study focuses on the 4-dimensional dynamical system associated with the reaction–diffusion model by considering traveling waves in 1 spatial dimension. We use the methods of geometric singular perturbation theory to establish the existence of a multitude of heteroclinic/homoclinic/periodic orbits that ‘jump’ between (normally hyperbolic) slow manifolds, representing various kinds of localized vegetation patterns. The basic 1-front invasion patterns and 2-front spot/gap patterns that form the starting point of our analysis have a direct ecological interpretation and appear naturally in simulations of the model. By exploiting the rich nonlinear structure of the model, we construct many multi-front patterns that are novel, both from the ecological and the mathematical point of view. In fact, we argue that these orbits/patterns are not specific for the model considered here, but will also occur in a much more general (singularly perturbed reaction–diffusion) setting. We conclude with a discussion of the ecological and mathematical implications of our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132637
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Ecosystem dynamics
  • Pattern formation
  • Reaction–diffusion equations
  • Singular perturbations
  • Traveling waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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