[PAST EVENT] Mathematics Colloquium/CSUMS Lecture

April 8, 2011
2pm - 3pm
Jones Hall, Room 301
200 Ukrop Way
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Title: Modeling the Dynamics of Woody Plant-Herbivore Interactions with Age-Dependent Toxicity

Abstract: We study the effects that woody plant chemical defenses may have on interactions between boreal hares that in winter feed almost entirely on twigs. We focus particularly on the fact that toxin concentration often varies with the age of twig segments. The model incorporates the fact that early in the growth of twigs, segments are often highly defended by toxins and are, therefore, highly unpalatable to hares. But that after a year or two, the toxin concentration of older twig segments is sufficiently reduced for their biomass to be more palatable. This age-dependent toxicity of twig segments is modeled using age-structured model equations which are reduced to a system of delay differential equations involving multiple delays in the woody plant - hare dynamics. A novel aspect of the modeling was that it had to account for mortality of non-consumed younger twig segment biomass when older twig biomass was bitten off and consumed. Basic mathematical properties of the model are established together with upper and lower bounds on the solutions. Necessary and sufficient conditions are found for the linear stability of the equilibrium in which the hare is extinct, and sufficient conditions are found for the global stability of this equilibrium. Numerical simulations confirmed the analytical results and demonstrated the existence of limit cycles over ranges of parameters reasonable for hares browsing on woody vegetation in boreal ecosystems.

[[jxshix, Junping Shi]]