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Introduction to Mathematical Biology (G5106) 2019-20 Workshop 1

Department of Mathematics
University of Sussex
G5106: Introduction to Mathematical Biology

Workshop 1
Continuous population models

Question 1.

Population models commonly used in biology are of the form

= N g(N ), given N (0) = N0
where g(N ) is a nonlinear function of the population density. For the following models,
find the steady states, investigate their linear stability and explain the behaviour of N (t)
for small and large N :

(a) Ricker model:

g(N ) = re−βN ;
(b) Beverton-Holt model:
g(N ) = .
Assume that r > 0, α > 0, β > 0.

Question 2.

Consider a logistically growing population that is grazed upon by predators which can be
assumed constant in population size. The model equation reads
dN N γN
= rN 1− − , (1)
dt K 1 + hN
where N is the population size, r is an intrinsic growth rate, K is the carrying capacity,
γ is the maximum predation rate and h is the handling time of the predators. Assume
that r >, K > 0, γ > 0 and h > 0.

(a) Non-dimensionalise the equation (1) to

dx αx
= x(1 − x) − , (2)
dτ 1 + βx
where α = γ/r and β = hK.

Introduction to Mathematical Biology (G5106) 2019-20 Workshop 1

(b) On the same graph plot the functions

h(x) = x(1 − x) and g(x) = .
1 + βx

Find the slope of functions h(x) and g(x) and thus by varying the value of the
parameter α in system (2), determine how many steady states are possible?
(c) Find the steady states in terms of the parameters α and β.
(d) Consider separately the cases of α > 1 and α < 1 and check how many steady states
the system (2) can have. In the case of α > 1, show that for the steady states to be
biologically relevant, the following condition on the parameter α should be satisfied:

(β + 1)2
α< .

Question 3.

The predation P (N ) on a population N (t) is very fast and a model for the prey N (t)
dN  N
= RN 1 − − P 1 − exp − 2 , (3)
dt K A
where 0 <  ≤ 1 and R, K, P and A are positive constants.

(a) If the units of N are density, and those of t are time, what are the dimensions of R,
K, P , A and ?

(b) Show that the equation (3) is equivalent to

du u u
= ru 1− − 1 − exp − ,
dτ q 

where r and q are positive parameters.

(c) Show that u = , τ = t, r = and q = are non-dimensional.

(d) Demonstrate that there are three possible non-zero steady states for large enough u
if r and q lie in a domain in r − q space given approximately by r q > 4.