Numerical model of the spatio-temporal dynamics in a water strider group
The water strider group demonstrates a very complex dynamics consisting of competition for the food items, territoriality and aggression to the conspecific individuals, escaping from the predators, etc. The situation is even more complex due to the presence of different instars, which in most water strider species live in the same habitat and occupy the same niche. The presented swarm model of water striders demonstrates the realistic population dynamics. For the swarm formation in the model, attraction and repulsion forces were used. Animal motion in the model takes into account inertia and kinetic energy dissipation effects. The model includes three different rates related to the growth of individuals: food appearance rate, food assimilation rate, and stored energy loss rate. The results of our modeling show that the size distribution of individuals seems to be an adequate measure for population status, and it has a characteristic shape for different model parameter combinations. Distribution of the distances between nearest neighbors is other important measure of the population density and its dynamics. Parameters of the model can be tuned in such a way, that the shape of both distributions in a steady phase coincides with that shape observed in a natural population, which helps to understand the factors leading to particular momentary distribution of both parameters (size and distance) in the population. From this point of view, the model can predict how both distributions can further develop from certain state depending on particular combination of factors.