Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : A simple dynamical cascade model for the evolution of free energy is considered in the context of gyrokinetic formalism. It is noted that the dynamics of free energy, that characterize plasma micro-turbulence in magnetic fusion devices, exhibit a predator-prey character. Various key features of predator-prey dynamics such as the time delay between turbulence and large-scale flow structures, or the intermittency of the dynamics are identified in the quasi-steady-state phase of the nonlinear gyrokinetic simulations. A novel prediction on the ratio of turbulence amplitudes in different parts of the wavenumber domain that follows from this simple predator-prey model is compared to a set of nonlinear simulation results and is observed to hold quite well in a large range of physical parameters. Detailed validation of the predator-prey hypothesis using nonlinear gyrokinetics provides a very important input for the effort to apprehend plasma micro-turbulence, since the predator-prey idea can be used as a very effective intuitive tool for understanding and designing efficient transport models. © 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.