BioND — Dynamics of Biological Networks

Master stability functions reveal diffusion-driven instabilities in multi-layer networks

Andreas Brechtel, Philipp Gramlich, Daniel Ritterskamp, Barbara Drossel, and Thilo Gross


Many systems in science and technology can be described as multilayer networks, which are known to exhibit phenomena such as catastrophic failure cascades and pattern-forming instabilities. A particular class of multilayer networks describes systems where different interacting copies of a local network exist in different spatial locations, including for instance regulatory and metabolic networks of identical cells and interacting habitats of ecological populations. Here, we show that such systems can be analyzed by a master stability function (MSF) approach, which reveals conditions for diffusion-driven instabilities (DDIs). We demonstrate the methodology on the example of state-of-the-art meta-foodweb models, where it reveals diffusion-driven instabilities that lead to localized dynamics and spatial patterns. This type of approach can be applied to a variety of systems from nature, science and engineering to aid the understanding and design of complex self-organizing systems.