Evol Ecol Res 4: 843-855 (2002)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Optimizing prey-capture behaviour to maximize expected net benefit

Daniel I. Bolnick* and Lara A. Ferry-Graham

Center for Population Biology, Storer Hall, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: dibolnick@ucdavis.edu


Biologists have long known that predators vary (modulate) their prey-capture behaviour in response to different prey. We propose an optimization model to predict when and why capture behaviour should vary. The predator’s attack ‘effort’ (reflecting any unidimensional kinematic variable such as acceleration) determines both the probability of capturing the prey and the energetic cost of attack. The optimal capture effort then reflects a balance between the marginal benefit of greater success and the marginal cost of added energy outlay. Using this model, we explore how the optimum responds to variation in prey traits (evasiveness and energy value). The model predicts three different types of response to prey variation: (1) no modulation, (2) increased effort for more elusive prey and (3) decreased effort for more elusive or lower energy prey.

Keywords: capture success, foraging costs, modulation, optimal foraging theory, prey-capture.

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        © 2002 Daniel I. Bolnick. 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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