Foraging: section overview

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    This section on foraging behaviour is warranted in this encyclopedia because foraging is fundamental to all life.

    The foraging process involves different stages (e.g., pre- and post-ingestion) and a number of types of decision (e.g., patch choice, diet choice, patch exploitation, movements, group membership, producer versus scrounger, foraging mode), leading to studies that focus on such different foraging stages and decisions. The chapters in this section therefore provide a comprehensive coverage of foraging behaviour by separately focusing on one or other of these stages and decisions.

    All chapters in this section rely on evolutionary theory to understand observed foraging behaviour. Foraging by animals (and other organisms) is such an important and fundamental aspect of animal behaviour, that we need to understand it as well as possible, and the best way to achieve this is to invoke evolutionary theory with animals hypothesised to forage in ways that maximise their biological fitness.

    This evolutionary approach leads to Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT), which includes Classic OFT, if individual animals do not respond directly to the foraging behaviour of others, and the more-general Foraging Game Theory, if such responses do occur. In either case, the basic hypothesis is that animals in a population will adopt a foraging strategy such that no individual can achieve higher biological fitness by deviating from the rest of the population. If individuals do not respond directly to the foraging behaviour of others, this hypothesis is equivalent to classic maximisation of some currency that acts as proxy for biological fitness. If such responses do occur, then individuals are collectively involved in foraging ‘games’ that are expected to be at equilibrium. Consequently, all chapters in this section embrace OFT, in one guise or the other.

    OFT has grown and developed enormously during its 50-year history, through expansion, extension, application and inspiration, with observations generally supporting expectations, to the point where it is now a ‘strong theory’ of behaviour and ecology. Several chapters in this section describe such growth and development.

    This section also aims to provide stories that you, our readers, will find easy to read and understand, as well as interesting, informative, compelling and memorable.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of animal behavior
    EditorsJae C. Choe
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam
    PublisherElsevier Academic Press
    Number of pages3
    ISBN (Electronic)9780128132524
    ISBN (Print)9780128132517
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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