Intraspecific competition in models for vegetation patterns: Decrease in resilience to aridity and facilitation of species coexistence

L. Eigentler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Patterned vegetation is a characteristic feature of many dryland ecosystems. While plant densities on the ecosystem-wide scale are typically low, a spatial self-organisation principle leads to the occurrence of alternating patches of high biomass and patches of bare soil. Nevertheless, intraspecific competition dynamics other than competition for water over long spatial scales are commonly ignored in mathematical models for vegetation patterns. In this paper, I address the impact of local intraspecific competition on a modelling framework for banded vegetation patterns. Firstly, I show that in the context of a single-species model, neglecting local intraspecific competition leads to an overestimation of a patterned ecosystem’s resilience to increases in aridity. Secondly, in the context of a multispecies model, I argue that local intraspecific competition is a key element in the successful capture of species coexistence in model solutions representing a vegetation pattern. For both models, a detailed bifurcation analysis is presented to analyse the onset, existence and stability of patterns. Besides the strengths of local intraspecific competition, also the difference between two species has a significant impact on the bifurcation structure, providing crucial insights into the complex ecosystem dynamics. Predictions on future ecosystem dynamics presented in this paper, especially on pattern onset and pattern stability, can aid the development of conservation programs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100835
JournalEcological Complexity
Early online date15 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Bifurcation analysis
  • Competitive exclusion
  • Numerical continuation
  • Pattern formation
  • Periodic travelling waves
  • Spatial self-organization
  • Wavetrains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecological Modelling


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