Sep 2, 2006

Efficiency evaluation of two competing foraging modes under different conditions

The American Naturalist
Inon ScharfAmos Bouskila


Various foraging modes are employed by predators in nature, ranging from ambush to active predation. Although the foraging mode may be limited by physiological constraints, other factors, such as prey behavior and distribution, may come into play. Using a simulation model, we tested to what extent the relative success of an ambush and an active predator changes as a function of the relative velocity and movement directionality of prey and active predator. In accordance with previous studies, we found that when both active predator and prey use nondirectional movement, the active mode is advantageous. However, as movement becomes more directional, this advantage diminishes gradually to 0. Previous theoretical studies assumed that animal movement is nondirectional; however, recent field observations show that in fact animal movement usually has some component of directionality. We therefore suggest that our simulation is a better predictor of encounter rates than previous studies. Furthermore, we show that as long as the active predator cannot move faster than its prey, it has little or no advantage over the ambush predator. However, as the active predator's velocity increases, its advantage increases sharply.

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