A mathematical model of the spatio-temporal dynamics of a two host, two parasitoid system is presented. There is a coupling of the four species through parasitism of both hosts by one of the parasitoids. The model comprises a system of four reaction–diffusion equations. The underlying system of ordinary differential equations, modelling the host–parasitoid population dynamics, has a unique positive steady state and is shown to be capable of undergoing Hopf bifurcations, leading to limit cycle kinetics which give rise to oscillatory temporal dynamics. The stability of the positive steady state has a fundamental impact on the spatio-temporal dynamics: stable travelling waves of parasitoid invasion exhibit increasingly irregular periodic travelling wave behaviour when key parameter values are increased beyond their Hopf bifurcation point. These irregular periodic travelling waves give rise to heterogeneous spatio-temporal patterns of host and parasitoid abundance. The generation of heterogeneous patterns has ecological implications and the concepts of temporary host refuge and niche formation are considered.
- Host-parasitoid systems
- Periodic travelling waves
- Spatio-temporal heterogeneity