Foraging

Foraging

Foraging

Foraging

Synopsis

The sixth volume in this respected series systematically presents and evaluates quantitative models of various foraging phenomena, including: steady state decision rules; acquisition of decision rules; perception and learning in foraging behavior.

Excerpt

The contributors to this volume work in equal number in association with departments of psychology and zoology. Nevertheless, many of them would find it difficult to define themselves as belonging exclusively to one or the other field of research, primarily because the study of foraging behavior, as it has developed in recent years and, hopefully, as it is presented in this volume, is a fruitful, but uneasy menage à trois of ecology, ethology, and experimental psychology. Each of these fields contributes its own tradition, know-how, and aims. From ecology, the study of foraging behavior has inherited a view of organisms and environments as unitary systems, and a concern for the consequences of individual behavior for population and community dynamics. From ethology, comes the legacy of simultaneous concern for the traditional aims of the discipline: the study of causes (mechanisms), development, survival value, and the phylogenetic history of behavior (Tinbergen, 1960). Experimental psychology is the most recent associate in this synthesized field. It contributes its emphasis on thorough analyses of behavior in simplified--hence, rigorously controlled-- environments. The assumption that underlies psychological studies of foraging is that properties of behavioral mechanisms present in simple laboratory situations must also be present, albeit potentially masked, in complex natural environments.

The term optimality refers to different notions. In psychology it refers to a mechanism for making choice that maximizes the amount of prey obtained. In biology, two notions exist side by side. The first is that of maximizing energy obtained from prey selection under both internal and external contraints. The other notion does not specify a particular meaning for optimality but leaves it an undefined concept in the program of applying evolutionary theory.

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