Deriving reaction-diffusion models in ecology from interacting particle systems

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9 Scopus citations


We use a scaling procedure based on averaging Poisson distributed random variables to derive population level models from local models of interactions between individuals. The procedure is suggested by using the idea of hydrodynamic limits to derive reaction-diffusion models for population interactions from interacting particle systems. The scaling procedure is formal in the sense that we do not address the issue of proving that it converges; instead we focus on methods for computing the results of the scaling or deriving properties of rescaled systems. To that end we treat the scaling procedure as a transform, in analogy with the Laplace or Fourier transform, and derive operational formulas to aid in the computation of rescaled systems or the derivation of their properties. Since the limiting procedure is adapted from work by Durrett and Levin, we refer to the transform as the Durrett-Levin transform. We examine the effects of rescaling in various standard models, including Lotka-Volterra models, Holling type predator-prey models, and ratio-dependent models. The effects of scaling are mostly quantitative in models with smooth interaction terms, but ratio-dependent models are profoundly affected by the scaling. The scaling transforms ratio-dependent terms that are singular at the origin into smooth terms. Removing the singularity at the origin eliminates some of the unique dynamics that can arise in ratio-dependent models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-217
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Mathematical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004


  • Competition
  • Hawk-Dove game
  • Hydrodynamic limits
  • Interacting particle systems
  • Lotka-Volterra
  • Population dynamics
  • Predator-prey
  • Ratio-dependence
  • Reaction-diffusion
  • Scaling
  • Spatial models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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