A Fisher–KPP Model with a Nonlocal Weighted Free Boundary: Analysis of How Habitat Boundaries Expand, Balance or Shrink

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  • In this paper, we propose a novel free boundary problem to model the movement of single species with a range boundary. The spatial movement and birth/death processes of the species found within the range boundary are assumed to be governed by the classic Fisher–KPP reaction–diffusion equation, while the movement of a free boundary describing the range limit is assumed to be influenced by the weighted total population inside the range boundary and is described by an integro-differential equation. Our free boundary equation is a generalization of the classical Stefan problem that
    allows for nonlocal influences on the boundary movement so that range expansion and shrinkage are both possible. In this paper, we prove that the new model is well-posed and possesses steady state. We show that the spreading speed of the range boundary is smaller than that for the equivalent problem with a Stefan condition. This implies that the nonlocal effect of the weighted total population on the boundary movement slows down the spreading speed of the population. While the classical Stefan condition categorizes asymptotic behavior via a spreading–vanishing dichotomy, the new model extends this dichotomy to a spreading–balancing–vanishing trichotomy. We specifically analyze how habitat boundaries expand, balance or shrink. When the model is extended to have two free boundaries, we observe the steady state scenario, asymmetric shifts, or even boundaries moving synchronously in the same direction. These are newly discovered phenomena in the free boundary problems for animal movement.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International