Evol Ecol Res 1: 411-421 (1999)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Departure time versus departure rate: How to forage optimally when you are stupid

Frederick R. Adler1 and Mirjam Kotar2

1Departments of Mathematics and of Biology and 2School of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: adler@math.utah.edu


Foragers unable to leave a patch at the optimal moment must act as constrained foragers. Extending the results of Houston and McNamara (1985), we compare a blundering forager that leaves patches at a constant rate with an unconstrained optimal forager that leaves patches at the optimal time. When a dimensionless measure of environmental quality exceeds a particular value, the blundering forager remains in patches longer on average than the unconstrained optimal forager. The relative success of the blundering forager is, paradoxically, lowest when its average departure time exactly matches that of the unconstrained optimal forager. When foraging in two dimensions, blundering provides a robust spatial foraging strategy for dealing with unknown differences in patch size.

Keywords: blundering foragers, error-constrained foraging, Marginal Value Theorem, optimal foraging.

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        © 1999 Frederick R. Adler. All EER articles are copyrighted by their authors. All authors endorse, permit and license Evolutionary Ecology Ltd. to grant its subscribing institutions/libraries the copying privileges specified below without additional consideration or payment to them or to Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. These endorsements, in writing, are on file in the office of Evolutionary Ecology, Ltd. Consult authors for permission to use any portion of their work in derivative works, compilations or to distribute their work in any commercial manner.

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