Nonlinear dynamics and pattern bifurcations in a model for vegetation stripes in semi-arid environments

Jonathan A. Sherratt, Gabriel J. Lord

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


In many semi-arid environments, vegetation is self-organised into spatial patterns. The most striking examples of this are on gentle slopes, where striped patterns are typical, running parallel to the contours. Previously, Klausmeier [1999. Regular and irregular patterns in semiarid vegetation. Science 284, 1826-1828.] has proposed a model for vegetation stripes based on competition for water. Here, we present a detailed study of the patterned solutions in the full nonlinear model, using numerical bifurcation analysis of both the pattern odes and the model pdes. We show that patterns exist for a wide range of rainfall levels, and in particular for much lower rainfall than have been considered by previous authors. Moreover, we show that for many rainfall levels, patterns with a variety of different wavelengths are stable, with mode selection dependent on initial conditions. This raises the possibility of hysteresis, and in numerical solutions of the model we show that pattern selection depends on rainfall history in a relatively simple way. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalTheoretical Population Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007


  • Hysteresis
  • Rainfall history
  • Tiger bush
  • Vegetation patterns


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