Ecological communities from random generalized Lotka-Volterra dynamics with nonlinear feedback

Sidhom, Laura; Galla, Tobias
Physical Review E 101, 032101 (1-15) (2020)

We investigate the outcome of generalized Lotka-Volterra dynamics of ecological communities with random interaction coefficients and nonlinear feedback. We show in simulations that the saturation of nonlinear feedback stabilizes the dynamics. This is confirmed in an analytical generating-functional approach to generalized Lotka-Volterra equations with piecewise linear saturating response. For such systems we are able to derive self-consistent relations governing the stable fixed-point phase and to carry out a linear stability analysis to predict the onset of unstable behavior. We investigate in detail the combined effects of the mean, variance, and covariance of the random interaction coefficients, and the saturation value of the nonlinear response. We find that stability and diversity increases with the introduction of nonlinear feedback, where decreasing the saturation value has a similar effect to decreasing the covariance. We also find cooperation to no longer have a detrimental effect on stability with nonlinear feedback, and the order parameters mean abundance and diversity to be less dependent on the symmetry of interactions with stronger saturation.

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