Dynamical systems on large networks with predator-prey interactions are stable and exhibit oscillations

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We analyze the stability of linear dynamical systems defined on sparse, random graphs with predator-prey, competitive, and mutualistic interactions. These systems are aimed at modeling the stability of fixed points in large systems defined on complex networks, such as ecosystems consisting of a large number of species that interact through a food web. We develop an exact theory for the spectral distribution and the leading eigenvalue of the corresponding sparse Jacobian matrices. This theory reveals that the nature of local interactions has a strong influence on a system's stability. We show that, in general, linear dynamical systems defined on random graphs with a prescribed degree distribution of unbounded support are unstable if they are large enough, implying a tradeoff between stability and diversity. Remarkably, in contrast to the generic case, antagonistic systems that contain only interactions of the predator-prey type can be stable in the infinite size limit. This feature for antagonistic systems is accompanied by a peculiar oscillatory behavior of the dynamical response of the system after a perturbation, when the mean degree of the graph is small enough. Moreover, for antagonistic systems we also find that there exist a dynamical phase transition and critical mean degree above which the response becomes nonoscillatory.
Original languageEnglish
Article number014305
Number of pages29
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2022


  • Complex Systems
  • Random Matrix Theory
  • Random graph
  • Theoretical Ecology
  • Network Stability

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