Master stability functions reveal diffusion-driven pattern formation in networks

Andreas Brechtel, Philipp Gramlich, Daniel Ritterskamp, Barbara Drossel, Thilo Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
305 Downloads (Pure)


We study diffusion-driven pattern formation in networks of networks, a class of multilayer systems, where different layers have the same topology, but different internal dynamics. Agents are assumed to disperse within a layer by undergoing random walks, while they can be created or destroyed by reactions between or within a layer. We show that the stability of homogeneous steady states can be analyzed with a master stability function approach that reveals a deep analogy between pattern formation in networks and pattern formation in continuous space. For illustration, we consider a generalized model of ecological meta-food webs. This fairly complex model describes the dispersal of many different species across a region consisting of a network of individual habitats while subject to realistic, nonlinear predator-prey interactions. In this example, the method reveals the intricate dependence of the dynamics on the spatial structure. The ability of the proposed approach to deal with this fairly complex system highlights it as a promising tool for ecology and other applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number032307
Number of pages18
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2018


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