Complex oscillatory patterns near singular hopf bifurcation in a two-timescale ecosystem

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Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems - Series B


We consider an ecological model consisting of two species of predators competing for their common prey with explicit interference competition. With a proper rescaling, the model is portrayed as a singularly perturbed system with one fast (prey dynamics) and two slow variables (dynamics of the predators). The model exhibits a variety of rich and interesting dynamics, including, but not limited to mixed-mode oscillations (MMOs), featuring concatenation of small and large amplitude oscillations, relaxation oscillations and bistability between a semi-trivial equilibrium state and a coexistent oscillatory state. More interestingly, in a neighborhood of singular Hopf bifurcation, long lasting transient dynamics in the form of chaotic MMOs or relaxation oscillations are observed as the system approaches the periodic attractor born out of supercritical Hopf bifurcation or a semi-trivial equilibrium state respectively. The transient dynamics could persist for hundreds or thousands of generations before the ecosystem experiences a regime shift. The time series of population cycles with different types of irregular oscillations arising in this model stem from a biological realistic feature, namely, by the variation in the intraspecific competition amongst the predators. To explain these oscillations, we use bifurcation analysis and methods from geometric singular perturbation theory. The numerical continuation study reveals the rich bifurcation structure in the system, including the existence of codimension-two bifurcations such as fold-Hopf and generalized Hopf bifurcations.



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