School of Mathematics

Frits Veerman

Rapid evolution in plankton populations: a slow-fast model

In the plankton world, it's to eat or being eaten. We consider the adaptive dietary change of a plankton predator, that switches its meal preference between two plankton preys. The dynamics of the three plankton populations under rapid evolution of the predator's diet choice is modelled by a fast-slow dynamical system. Using geometric singular perturbation theory, we analyse the system and show how to construct singular periodic orbits. Several qualitative features of these oscillatory solutions are also observed in experimental studies; we highlight their ecological relevance, and show that these features persist as the perturbation parameter is increased.