Critical patch size reduction by heterogeneous diffusion
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Population survival depends on a large set of factors and on how they are distributed in space. Due to landscape heterogeneity, species can occupy particular regions that provide the ideal scenario for development, working as a refuge from harmful environmental conditions. Survival occurs if population growth overcomes the losses caused by adventurous individuals that cross the patch edge. In this work, we consider a single species dynamics in a patch with a space-dependent diffusion coefficient. We show analytically, within the Stratonovich framework, that heterogeneous diffusion reduces the minimal patch size for population survival when contrasted with the homogeneous case with the same average diffusivity. Furthermore, this result is robust regardless of the particular choice of the diffusion coefficient profile. We also discuss how this picture changes beyond the Stratonovich framework. Particularly, the Itô case, which is nonanticipative, can promote the opposite effect, while Hänggi-Klimontovich interpretation reinforces the reduction effect.