Cyclic competition of four species: Mean-field theory and stochastic evolution
Department of Physics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - Blacksburg, VA 24061-0435, USA
Accepted: 22 November 2010
Generalizing the cyclically competing three-species model (often referred to as the rock-paper-scissors game), we consider a simple system of population dynamics without spatial structures that involves four species. Unlike the previous model, the four form alliance pairs which resemble partnership in the game of Bridge. In a finite system with discrete stochastic dynamics, all but 4 of the absorbing states consist of coexistence of a partner-pair. From a master equation, we derive a set of mean-field equations of evolution. This approach predicts complex time dependence of the system and that the surviving partner-pair is the one with the larger product of their strengths (rates of consumption). Simulations typically confirm these scenarios. Beyond that, much richer behavior is revealed, including complicated extinction probabilities and non-trivial distributions of the population ratio in the surviving pair. These discoveries naturally raise a number of intriguing questions, which in turn suggests a variety of future avenues of research, especially for more realistic models of multispecies competition in nature.
PACS: 87.23.Cc – Population dynamics and ecological pattern formation / 02.50.Ey – Stochastic processes / 05.40.-a – Fluctuation phenomena, random processes, noise, and Brownian motion
© EPLA, 2010