Evol Ecol Res 10: 823-834 (2008) Full PDF if your library subscribes.
Optimal foraging and information gathering: how should animals invest in repeated foraging bouts within the same patch?
Yoshihisa Mori1 and Kensuke Nakata2
1Department of Animal Sciences, Teikyo University of Science and Technology, Yamanashi and 2Faculty of Contemporary Law, Tokyo Keizai University, Tokyo, Japan
Correspondence: Y. Mori, Department of Animal Sciences, Teikyo University of Science and Technology, Yatsusawa 2525, Uenohara, Yamanashi 409-0193, Japan.
Questions: How much should animals invest in information gathering when they have no prior information about the present state of the foraging patch, and does the ability to use information have an effect on the size of the investment?
Mathematical method: Optimization of the size of investment when animals use the same foraging patch repeatedly.
Key assumptions: Animals determine the size of their foraging investment before each foraging bout. They make a first investment without having any prior information. They then use information gained from the experience of the first bout to estimate patch profitability. (The larger the investment during the first bout, the more accurate the estimate.)
Predictions: When patch profitability can be correctly estimated irrespective of the size of investment, animals should invest as if they were at a patch of average profitability. If larger investments do produce more accurate estimates, animals should make a greater investment than that for average profitability in the environment. The more likely it is that information proves to be invalid, the smaller the optimal investment in gaining that information. Therefore, it is expected that the species that relocates its foraging patch frequently makes a relatively smaller investment in its first foraging bout, whereas the species that exhibits strong patch tenacity makes a relatively greater investment in its first bout. Animals should pay the cost of the non-maximized gain for information that will help them to estimate foraging patch profitability more accurately and to enhance their future foraging.
Keywords: environmental uncertainty, information gathering, optimal foraging, patch use, repeated foraging.
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