Perceptual ranges, information gathering, and foraging success in dynamic landscapes

William F. Fagan, Eliezer Gurarie, Sharon Bewick, Allison Howard, Robert Cantrell, George Cosner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


How organisms gather and utilize information about their landscapes is central to understanding land-use patterns and population distributions. When such information originates beyond an indi-vidual’s immediate vicinity, movement decisions require integrating information out to some perceptual range. Such nonlocal information, whether obtained visually, acoustically, or via chemosensation, provides a field of stimuli that guides movement. Classically, however, models have assumed movement based on purely local information (e.g., chemotaxis, step-selection functions). Here we explore how foragers can exploit nonlocal information to improve their success in dynamic landscapes. Using a continuous time/continuous space model in which we vary both random (diffusive) movement and resource-following (advective) movement, we characterize the optimal perceptual ranges for foragers in dynamic landscapes. Nonlocal information can be highly beneficial, increasing the spatiotemporal concentration of foragers on their resources up to twofold compared with movement based on purely local information. However, nonlocal information is most useful when foragers possess both high advective movement (al-lowing them to react to transient resources) and low diffusive movement (preventing them from drifting away from resource peaks). Nonlocal information is particularly beneficial in landscapes with sharp (rather than gradual) patch edges and in landscapes with highly transient resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-489
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017


  • Advection on nonlocal information
  • Consumer movement
  • Oriented movement
  • Resource matching
  • Transient resources
  • Viewsheds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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