Authors: Mohamed Swailem, Uwe C. Täuber
Abstract: We study the stochastic spatial Lotka-Volterra model for predator-prey competition subject to a periodically varying carrying capacity. The Lotka-Volterra model with on-site lattice occupation restrictions (i.e., finite local carrying capacity) that represent finite food resources for the prey population exhibits a continuous active-to-absorbing phase transition. Monte Carlo simulations on a two-dimensional lattice are utilized to investigate the effect of seasonal variations of the environment on species coexistence. The results of our simulations are also compared to a mean-field analysis in order to specifically delineate the impact of stochastic fluctuations and spatial correlations. We find that environmental variability enhances ecological stability and enriches species coexistence. The (quasi-)stationary regime of our periodically varying Lotka-Volterra predator-prey system shows qualitative agreement between the stochastic model and the mean-field approximation. However, under periodic carrying capacity switching environments, the mean-field rate equations predict period-doubling scenarios that are washed out by internal reaction noise in the stochastic lattice model. Correlation function measurements indicate a time delay in the response of the system to sudden changes in the environment. Resonance features are observed in our simulations that cause prolonged persistent spatial correlations. Different effective static environments are explored in the extreme limits of fast- and slow periodic switching. The analysis of the mean-field equations in the fast-switching regime enables a semi-quantitative description of the (quasi-)stationary state.