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Collective foraging in spatially complex nutritional environments


Lihoreau, M and Charleston, MA and Senior, AM and Clissold, FJ and Raubenheimer, D and Simpson, SJ and Buhl, J, Collective foraging in spatially complex nutritional environments, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 372, (1727) Article 20160238. ISSN 0962-8436 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1098/rstb.2016.0238


Nutrition impinges on virtually all aspects of an animal's life, including social interactions. Recent advances in nutritional ecology show how social animals often trade-off individual nutrition and group cohesion when foraging in simplified experimental environments. Here, we explore how the spatial structure of the nutritional landscape influences these complex collective foraging dynamics in ecologically realistic environments. We introduce an individual-based model integrating key concepts of nutritional geometry, collective animal behaviour and spatial ecology to study the nutritional behaviour of animal groups in large heterogeneous environments containing foods with different abundance, patchiness and nutritional composition. Simulations show that the spatial distribution of foods constrains the ability of individuals to balance their nutrient intake, the lowest performance being attained in environments with small isolated patches of nutritionally complementary foods. Social interactions improve individual regulatory performances when food is scarce and clumpy, but not when it is abundant and scattered, suggesting that collective foraging is favoured in some environments only. These social effects are further amplified if foragers adopt flexible search strategies based on their individual nutritional state. Our model provides a conceptual and predictive framework for developing new empirically testable hypotheses in the emerging field of social nutrition.

This article is part of the themed issue ‘Physiological determinants of social behaviour in animals’.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:collective behaviour, foraging, nutritional geometry, individual-based model, social interactions, spatial ecology
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Genetics
Research Field:Genetics not elsewhere classified
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:121073
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:29
Deposited By:Mathematics and Physics
Deposited On:2017-09-08
Last Modified:2018-04-27

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