On the formulation of size-structured consumer resource models (with special attention for the principle of linearized stability)

Carles Barril, Àngel Calsina, Odo Diekmann*, József Z. Farkas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


To describe the dynamics of a size-structured population and its unstructured resource, we formulate bookkeeping equations in two different ways. The first, called the PDE formulation, is rather standard. It employs a first-order partial differential equation, with a non-local boundary condition, for the size-density of the consumer, coupled to an ordinary differential equation for the resource concentration. The second is called the DELAY formulation and employs a renewal equation for the population level birth rate of the consumer, coupled to a delay differential equation for the (history of the) resource concentration. With each of the two formulations we associate a constructively defined semigroup of nonlinear solution operators. The two semigroups are intertwined by a non-invertible operator. In this paper, we delineate in what sense the two semigroups are equivalent. In particular, we (i) identify conditions on both the model ingredients and the choice of state space that guarantee that the intertwining operator is surjective, (ii) focus on large time behavior and (iii) consider full orbits, i.e. orbits defined for time running from -∞ to + ∞. Conceptually, the PDE formulation is by far the most natural one. It has, however, the technical drawback that the solution operators are not differentiable, precluding rigorous linearization. (The underlying reason for the lack of differentiability is exactly the same as in the case of state-dependent delay equations: we need to differentiate with respect to a quantity that appears as argument of a function that may not be differentiable.) For the delay formulation, one can (under certain conditions concerning the model ingredients) prove the differentiability of the solution operators and establish the Principle of Linearized Stability. Next, the equivalence of the two formulations yields a rather indirect proof of this principle for the PDE formulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1191
Number of pages51
JournalMathematical Models and Methods in Applied Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022


  • delay formulation
  • Physiologically structured populations


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