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Discrete consumers, small scale resource heterogeneity, and population stability



We present a consumer-resource model in which individual consumers subsist on a continuum of resource distributed over a very large number of small “bite-sized” patches, each patch being sufficiently small that all its resource is eaten whenever a consumer visits. This form of consumer–resource interaction forces a heterogeneous distribution of resource among the patches, and may dampen out the large amplitude, consumer-resource cycles that are predicted by traditional models of well-mixed, spatially homogeneous systems. The resource equilibrium does not increase with enrichment, a prediction that distinguishes this model from models that invoke direct or indirect consumer density dependence as a stabilizing mechanism.

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