Mechanistic home range analysis (MHRA) is a highly effective tool for understanding spacing patterns of animal populations. It has hitherto focused on populations where animals defend their territories by communicating indirectly, e.g. via scent marks. However, many animal populations defend their territories using direct interactions, such as ritualized aggression. To enable application of MHRA to such populations, we construct a model of direct territorial interactions, using linear stability analysis and energy methods to understand when territorial patterns may form. We show that spatial memory of past interactions is vital for pattern formation, as is memory of ‘safe’ places, where the animal has visited but not suffered recent territorial encounters. Additionally, the spatial range over which animals make decisions to move is key to understanding the size and shape of their resulting territories. Analysis using energy methods, on a simplified version of our system, shows that stability in the nonlinear system corresponds well to predictions of linear analysis. We also uncover a hysteresis in the process of territory formation, so that formation may depend crucially on initial space-use. Our analysis, in one dimension and two dimensions, provides mathematical groundwork required for extending MHRA to situations where territories are defended by direct encounters.
- Received January 20, 2016.
- Accepted April 7, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.