An integrodifference model for vegetation patterns in semi-arid environments with seasonality

Lukas Eigentler, Jonathan A. Sherratt

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11 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Vegetation patterns are a characteristic feature of semi-deserts occurring on all continents except Antarctica. In some semi-arid regions, the climate is characterised by seasonality, which yields a synchronisation of seed dispersal with the dry season or the beginning of the wet season. We reformulate the Klausmeier model, a reaction-advection-diffusion system that describes the plant-water dynamics in semi-arid environments, as an integrodifference model to account for the temporal separation of plant growth processes during the wet season and seed dispersal processes during the dry season. The model further accounts for nonlocal processes involved in the dispersal of seeds. Our analysis focusses on the onset of spatial patterns. The Klausmeier partial differential equations (PDE) model is linked to the integrodifference model in an appropriate limit, which yields a control parameter for the temporal separation of seed dispersal events. We find that the conditions for pattern onset in the integrodifference model are equivalent to those for the continuous PDE model and hence independent of the time between seed dispersal events. We thus conclude that in the context of seed dispersal, a PDE model provides a sufficiently accurate description, even if the environment is seasonal. This emphasises the validity of results that have previously been obtained for the PDE model. Further, we numerically investigate the effects of changes to seed dispersal behaviour on the onset of patterns. We find that long-range seed dispersal inhibits the formation of spatial patterns and that the seed dispersal kernel's decay at infinity is a significant regulator of patterning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-904
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number3
Early online date4 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Integrodifference model
  • Nonlocal dispersal
  • Pattern formation
  • Seasonal environments
  • Semi-arid landscapes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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