The optimal search path in a patchy environment

This source preferred by Richard Stillman

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Authors: Stillman, R.A. and Sutherland, W.J.

Journal: Journal of Theoretical Biology

Volume: 145

Issue: 2

Pages: 177-182

eISSN: 1095-8541

ISSN: 0022-5193

DOI: 10.1016/S0022-5193(05)80123-7

The optimal search path in a patchy environment is considered assuming an animal is able to alter walking speed, turning angle or turn alternation according to the quality of the patch. The optimal search path was determined for both an environment in which the patches were depleting and one in which they were non-depleting. Walking speed had a considerable effect on the time spent in different quality patches. Turning angle only had an effect when the animal was able to detect when patch boundaries were crossed, and degree of turn alternation had a negligible effect. Turning angle and degree of turn alternation had greater effects when depletion occurred. An immediate change in search path when encountering a patch boundary could markedly affect time in the better sites. Processes such as memory and detection of patch quality may be more important than simple modifications of the search path in response to quality. © 1990 Academic Press Limited.

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