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J Theor Biol. 2019 Mar 7;464:85-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2018.12.019. Epub 2018 Dec 15.

Effect of complex landscape geometry on the invasive species spread: Invasion with stepping stones.

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Department of Mathematics, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK.
Department of Mathematics, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK. Electronic address:


Spatial proliferation of invasive species often causes serious damage to agriculture, ecology and environment. Evaluation of the extent of the area potentially invadable by an alien species is an important problem. Landscape features that reduces dispersal space to narrow corridors can make some areas inaccessible to the invading species. On the other hand, the existence of stepping stones - small areas or 'patches' with better environmental conditions - is known to assist species spread. How an interplay between these factors can affect the invasion success remains unclear. In this paper, we address this question theoretically using a mechanistic model of population dynamics. Such models have been generally successful in predicting the rate and pattern of invasive spread; however, they usually consider the spread in an unbounded, uniform space hence ignoring the complex geometry of a real landscape. In contrast, here we consider a reaction-diffusion model in a domain of a complex shape combining corridors and stepping stones. We show that the invasion success depends on a subtle interplay between the stepping stone size, location and the strength of the Allee effect inside. In particular, for a stepping stone of a small size, there is only a narrow range of locations where it can unblock the otherwise impassable corridor.


Allee effect; Diffusion-reaction model; Dispersal corridors; Invasion blocking


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