Competition models for plant stems
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Differential Equations. 2020, 269 (2), 1571-1611. 10.1016/j.jde.2020.01.013
The models introduced in this paper describe a uniform distribution of plant stems competing for sunlight. The shape of each stem, and the density of leaves, are designed in order to maximize the captured sunlight, subject to a cost for transporting water and nutrients from the root to all the leaves. Given the intensity of light, depending on the height above ground, we first solve the optimization problem determining the best possible shape for a single stem. We then study a competitive equilibrium among a large number of similar plants, where the shape of each stem is optimal given the shade produced by all others. Uniqueness of equilibria is proved by analyzing the two-point boundary value problem for a system of ODEs derived from the necessary conditions for optimality.