A comparison of foraging strategies in a patchy environment

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5 Scopus citations


In this paper we compare foraging strategies that might be used by predators seeking prey in a patchy environment. The strategies differ in the extent to which predators aggregate in response to prey density. The approach to the comparison is suggested by the idea of evolutionarily stable strategies. A strategy is said to be evolutionarily stable if it cannot be invaded by another strategy. Thus we examine scenarios where a small number of individuals using one strategy are introduced into a situation where a large number of individuals using the other strategy are already present. However, our foraging models do not explicitly incorporate predator population dynamics, so we use net energy uptake as a surrogate for reproductive fitness. In cases where all of the patches visited by predators sustain prey populations, we find that for any pair of strategies one of them will have a higher net energy uptake than the other whether it is the resident or the introduced strain. However, which one is higher will typically depend on the total predator population, which is determined by the resident strain. If the predators leave prey densities high, the more aggregative strain will have the advantage. If the predators reduce prey densities to low levels the less aggregative strain will have the advantage. In cases where one strain of predators aggregates in response to prey density and the other does not, then there might be patches which do not contain prey but do contain (nonaggregating) predators. In those cases, there is the possibility that whichever strategy is used by the introduced strain will yield a higher energy uptake than that used by the resident strain. This suggests that if some patches are empty of prey then aggregative and non- aggregative strategies may be able to coexist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-46
Number of pages22
JournalMathematical Biosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Evolutionary stable strategy
  • Foraging strategy
  • Multiple spatial scales
  • Predator aggregation
  • Predator-prey models
  • Reaction- diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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