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Biosystems. 2008 Mar;91(3):499-514. Epub 2007 Aug 11.

Modelling metapopulations with stochastic membrane systems.

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Università degli Studi di Milano, Dipartimento di Informatica e Comunicazione, Via Comelico 39, 20135 Milano, Italy.


Metapopulations, or multi-patch systems, are models describing the interactions and the behavior of populations living in fragmented habitats. Dispersal, persistence and extinction are some of the characteristics of interest in ecological studies of metapopulations. In this paper, we propose a novel method to analyze metapopulations, which is based on a discrete and stochastic modelling framework in the area of Membrane Computing. New structural features of membrane systems, necessary to appropriately describe a multi-patch system, are introduced, such as the reduction of the maximal parallel consumption of objects, the spatial arrangement of membranes and the stochastic creation of objects. The role of the additional features, their meaning for a metapopulation model and the emergence of relevant behaviors are then investigated by means of stochastic simulations. Conclusive remarks and ideas for future research are finally presented.

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