Pulsed interactions unify reaction-diffusion and spatial nonlocal models for biological pattern formation

Eduardo H. Colombo, Ricardo Martinez-Garcia, Justin M. Calabrese, Cristobal Lopez, Emilio Hernandez-Garcia
Journal of Statistical Mechanics: theory and experiment, to appear , (2024)

The emergence of a spatially-organized population distribution depends on the dynamics of the population and mediators of interaction (activators and inhibitors). Two broad classes of models have been used to investigate when and how self-organization is triggered, namely, reaction-diffusion and spatially nonlocal models. Nevertheless, these models implicitly assume smooth propagation scenarios, neglecting that individuals many times interact by exchanging short and abrupt pulses of the mediating substance. A recently proposed framework advances in the direction of properly accounting for these short-scale fluctuations by applying a coarse-graining procedure on the pulse dynamics. In this paper, we generalize the coarse-graining procedure and apply the extended formalism to new scenarios in which mediators influence individuals’ reproductive success or their motility. We show that, in the slow- and fast-mediator limits, pulsed interactions recover, respectively, the reaction-diffusion and nonlocal models, providing a mechanistic connection between them. Furthermore, at each limit, the spatial stability condition is qualitatively different, leading to a timescale-induced transition where spatial patterns emerge as mediator dynamics becomes sufficiently fast.


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