Optimal foraging theory: introduction

G. H. Pyke*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    The foraging behavior that we observe is the result of decisions made by animals as they forage for food. As an animal forages in a patch of food, for example, it may suffer diminishing returns as it locates and consumes increasing amounts of the available food, but can decide at any time to leave this current patch and move to a new one. Optimal foraging theory hypothesizes that foraging animals make such decisions so as to maximize some of current of fitness such as the net rate of energy gain, and uses observation of the foraging environment along with mathematical tools to determine the hypothesized or 'optimal' behavior. So far, agreement between observed and expected foraging behavior has been qualitatively excellent and quantitatively reasonable. Optimal foraging has been used and extended in other areas, and has become established as a strong theory of behavior and ecology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of animal behavior
    EditorsMichael D. Breed, Janice Moore
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherElsevier Inc.
    Number of pages3
    ISBN (Print)9780080453330
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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