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Rongsong Liu, University of Wyoming
October 31 @ 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm MDT
Seminar Title: Modeling the Interaction Between Plant and Herbivore Mediated by Plant Toxicity
Abstract: We study the effects that woody plant chemical defenses may have on interactions between boreal hares that in winter feed almost entirely on twigs. We focus particularly on the fact that toxin concentration often varies with the age of twig segments. The model incorporates the fact that the woody internodes of the youngest segments of the twigs of the deciduous angiosperm species that these hares prefer to eat are more defended by toxins than the woody internodes of the older segments that subtend and support the younger segments. Thus, the per capita daily intake of the biomass of the older segments of twigs by hares is much higher than their intake of the biomass of the younger segments of twigs. This age-dependent toxicity of twig segments is modeled using age-structured model equations which are reduced to a system of delay differential equations involving multiple delays in the woody plant–hare dynamics. A novel aspect of the modeling was that it had to account for mortality of non-consumed younger twig segment biomass when older twig biomass was bitten off and consumed. Basic mathematical properties of the model are established together with upper and lower bounds on the solutions. Necessary and sufficient conditions are found for the linear stability of the equilibrium in which the hare is extinct, and sufficient conditions are found for the global stability of this equilibrium. Numerical simulations confirmed the analytical results and demonstrated the existence of limit cycles over ranges of parameters reasonable for hares browsing on woody vegetation in boreal ecosystems. This showed that age dependence in plant chemical defenses has the capacity to cause hare–plant population cycles, a new result.
More About the Speaker: Rongsong Liu joined the University of Wyoming faculty in 2009. She came to the University of Wyoming from Purdue University. Her interests are mathematical biology, differential equations, dynamical systems, and their interface. Her research projects involve formulation, analysis and applications of deterministic mathematical models for infectious diseases, and ecological systems