Ideal free dispersal under general spatial heterogeneity and time periodicity

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4 Scopus citations


A population is said to have an ideal free distribution in a spatially heterogeneous but temporally constant environment if each of its members has chosen a fixed spatial location in a way that optimizes its individual fitness, allowing for the effects of crowding. In this paper, we extend the idea of individual fitness associated with a specific location in space to account for the full path that an individual organism takes in space and time over a periodic cycle, and we extend the mathematical formulation of an ideal free distribution to general time periodic environments. We find that, as in many other cases, populations using dispersal strategies that can produce a generalized ideal free distribution have a competitive advantage relative to populations using dispersal strategies that cannot do so. A sharp criterion on the environmental functions is found to be necessary and sufficient for such ideal free distribution to be feasible. In the case the criterion is met, we show the existence of dispersal strategies that can be identified as producing a time-periodic version of an ideal free distribution, and such strategies are evolutionarily steady and are neighborhood invaders from the viewpoint of adaptive dynamics. Our results extend previous works in which the environments are either temporally constant, or temporally periodic but the total carrying capacity is temporally constant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)789-813
Number of pages25
JournalSIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Evolution of dispersal
  • Evolutionarily stable strategy
  • Ideal free distribution
  • Periodic-parabolic problems
  • Principal eigenvalue
  • Reaction-diffusion-advection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics


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