How Mathematics Describes Life
Abstract
The circle of life is something we have all heard of from somewhere, but we don't usually try to calculate it. For some time we have been working on analyzing a predatorprey model to better understand how mathematics can describe life, in particular the interaction between two different species. The model we are analyzing is called the HollingTanner model, and it cannot be solved analytically. The HollingTanner model is a very common model in population dynamics because it is a simple descriptor of how predators and prey interact. The model is a system of two differential equations. The model is not specific to any particular set of species and so it can describe predatorprey species ranging from lions and zebras to white blood cells and infections. One thing all these systems have in common are critical points. A critical point is a value for both populations that keeps both populations constant. It is important because at this point the differential equations are equal to zero. For this model there are two critical points, a predator free critical point and a coexistence critical point. Most of the analysis we did is on the coexistence critical point because the predator free critical point is always unstable and frankly less interesting than the coexistence critical point. What we did is consider two regimes for the differential equations, large B and small B. B, A, and C are parameters in the differential equations that control the system where B measures how responsive the predators are to change in the population, A represents predation of the prey, and C represents the satiation point of the prey population. For the large B case we were able to approximate the system of differential equations by a single scalar equation. For the small B case we were able to predict the limit cycle. The limit cycle is a process of the predator and prey populations growing and shrinking periodically. This model has a limit cycle in the regime of small B, that we solved for numerically. With some assumptions to reduce the differential equations we were able to create a system of equations and unknowns to predict the behavior of the limit cycle for small B.
 Publication:

American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #229
 Pub Date:
 January 2017
 Bibcode:
 2017AAS...22913805T