Hindrances to bistable front propagation: application to Wolbachia invasion.
We study the biological situation when an invading population propagates and replaces an existing population with different characteristics. For instance, this may occur in the presence of a vertically transmitted infection causing a cytoplasmic effect similar to the Allee effect (e.g. Wolbachia in Aedes mosquitoes): the invading dynamics we model is bistable. We aim at quantifying the propagules (what does it take for an invasion to start?) and the invasive power (how far can an invading front go, and what can stop it?). We rigorously show that a heterogeneous environment inducing a strong enough population gradient can stop an invading front, which will converge in this case to a stable front. We characterize the critical population jump, and also prove the existence of unstable fronts above the stable (blocking) fronts. Being above the maximal unstable front enables an invading front to clear the obstacle and propagate further. We are particularly interested in the case of artificial Wolbachia infection, used as a tool to fight arboviruses.