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Evolving nutritional strategies in the presence of competition: a geometric agent-based model


Senior, AM and Charleston, MA and Lihoreau, M and Buhl, J and Raubenheimer, D and Simpson, SJ, Evolving nutritional strategies in the presence of competition: a geometric agent-based model, PLoS Computational Biology, 11, (3) Article e1004111. ISSN 1553-734X (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004111


Access to nutrients is a key factor governing development, reproduction and ultimately fitness. Within social groups, contest-competition can fundamentally affect nutrient access, potentially leading to reproductive asymmetry among individuals. Previously, agent-based models have been combined with the Geometric Framework of nutrition to provide insight into how nutrition and social interactions affect one another. Here, we expand this modelling approach by incorporating evolutionary algorithms to explore how contest-competition over nutrient acquisition might affect the evolution of animal nutritional strategies. Specifically, we model tolerance of nutrient excesses and deficits when ingesting nutritionally imbalanced foods, which we term ‘nutritional latitude’; a higher degree of nutritional latitude constitutes a higher tolerance of nutritional excess and deficit. Our results indicate that a transition between two alternative strategies occurs at moderate to high levels of competition. When competition is low, individuals display a low level of nutritional latitude and regularly switch foods in search of an optimum. When food is scarce and contest-competition is intense, high nutritional latitude appears optimal, and individuals continue to consume an imbalanced food for longer periods before attempting to switch to an alternative. However, the relative balance of nutrients within available foods also strongly influences at what levels of competition, if any, transitions between these two strategies occur. Our models imply that competition combined with reproductive skew in social groups can play a role in the evolution of diet breadth. We discuss how the integration of agent-based, nutritional and evolutionary modelling may be applied in future studies to further understand the evolution of nutritional strategies across social and ecological contexts.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:competition, agent-based model, geometric framework
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Charleston, MA (Professor Michael Charleston)
ID Code:100231
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:22
Deposited By:Mathematics and Physics
Deposited On:2015-05-07
Last Modified:2015-06-03
Downloads:399 View Download Statistics

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