Optimal foraging theory: a critical review.

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Assumptions behind optimal foraging theory are: 1) an individual's contribution to the next generation (its fitness) depends on behaviour during foraging; 2) there should be a heritable component of foraging behaviour (the actual innate foraging responses or the rules by which such responses are learned), and the proportion of individuals in a population foraging in ways that enhance fitness will tend to increase over time; 3) the relationship between foraging behaviour and fitness is known; 4) evolution of foraging behaviour is not prevented by genetic contraints; 5) such evolution is subject to 'functional' constraints (eg related to the animal's morphology); and 6) foraging behaviour evolves more rapidly than the rate at which relevant environmental conditions change. The review considers recent theoretical and empirical developments, dealing with behaviour of animals while they are foraging (but ignoring the timing of and the amount of time allocated to such behaviour). Ideas considered include risk aversion and risk proneness; optimal diet; optimal patch choice; optimal patch departure rules; optimal movements; and optimal central place foraging. Means of evaluating optimal foraging theory are discussed. -P.J.Jarvis

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-575
Number of pages53
JournalAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (Paper)
Publication statusPublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes


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