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Weak species in rock-paper-scissors models

P. P. Avelino, B. F. de Oliveira, R. S. Trintin

In this letter, we investigate the population dynamics in a May-Leonard formulation of the rock-paper-scissors (RPS) game in which one or two species, which we shall refer to as "weak", have a reduced predation or reproduction probability. We show that in a non-spatial model the stationary solution where all three species coexist is always unstable, while in a spatial stochastic model coexistence is possible for a wide parameter space. We find that a reduced predation probability results in a significantly higher abundance of "weak" species, in models with either one or two "weak" species, as long as the simulation lattices are sufficiently large for coexistence to prevail. On the other hand, we show that a reduced reproduction probability has a smaller impact on the abundance of "weak" species, generally leading to a slight decrease of its population size -the increase of the population size of one of the "weak" species being more than compensated by the reduction of the other, in the two-species case. We further show that the species abundances in models where both predation and reproduction probabilities are simultaneously reduced may be accurately estimated from the results obtained considering only a reduction of either the predation or the reproduction probability.

Quantitative Biology - Populations and Evolution; Physics - Physics and Society

Europhysics Letters
Volume 134, Number 4
2021 July

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia