Optimal Lévy-flight foraging in a finite landscape

Kun Zhao*, Raja Jurdak, Jiajun Liu, David Westcott, Branislav Kusy, Hazel Parry, Philipp Sommer, Adam McKeown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


We present a simple model to study Lévy-flight foraging with a power-law step-size distribution P(l)∞/ l-μ in a finite landscape with countable targets. We find that different optimal foraging strategies characterized by a wide range of power-law exponent μopt, from ballistic motion (μopt→1) to Lévy flight (1<μopt<3) to Brownian motion (μopt≥ 3), may arise in adaptation to the interplay between the termination of foraging, which is regulated by the number of foraging steps, and the environmental context of the landscape, namely the landscape size and number of targets. We further demonstrate that stochastic returning can be another significant factor that affects the foraging efficiency and optimality of foraging strategy. Our study provides a new perspective on Lévy-flight foraging, opens newavenues for investigating the interaction between foraging dynamics and the environment and offers a realistic framework for analysing animalmovement patterns fromempirical data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20141158
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number104
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Lévy flight
  • Optimal foraging
  • Random search


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