Continuum-sites stepping-stone models, coalescing exchangeable partitions, and random trees

November, 1998
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Peter Donnelly, Steven N. Evans, Klaus Fleischmann, Thomas G. Kurtz and Xiaowen Zhou
Electronic Journal of Probability</em>, Vol. 4 (1999) Paper no. 11, pages 1-33

Analogues of stepping--stone models are considered where the site--space is continuous, the migration process is a general Markov process, and the type--space is infinite. Such processes were defined in previous work of the second author by specifying a Feller transition semigroup in terms of expectations of suitable functionals for systems of coalescing Markov processes. An alternative representation is obtained here in terms of a limit of interacting particle systems. It is shown that, under a mild condition on the migration process, the continuum--sites stepping--stone process has continuous sample paths. The case when the migration process is Brownian motion on the circle is examined in detail using a duality relation between coalescing and annihilating Brownian motion. This duality relation is also used to show that a random compact metric space that is naturally associated to an infinite family of coalescing Brownian motions on the circle has Hausdorff and packing dimension both almost surely equal to $\frac{1}{2}$ and, moreover, this space is capacity equivalent to the middle--1/2 Cantor set (and hence also to the Brownian zero set).

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