Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Great Tits and Giving-Up Times: Decision Rules for Leaving Patches

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Behaviour

In this paper I examine the hypothesis that animals employ simple decision rules in exploiting patchily distributed food. This idea arises from the supposition that animals probably cannot compute the optimal patch residence time in the same manner that is calculated in optimal foraging models. Instead they may only approximate the optimal solution using a simple, robust rule-of-thumb. I considered three rules-of-thumb that great tits foraging in a simple experimental habitat may use: a number expectation, a time expectation, and a giving-up time. The experimental habitat consisted of an operant patch in which great tits had to search for food by hopping on a perch. The probability of reward declined for successive patch hops according to a predetermined stochastic schedule. In order to maximize food intake, the great tits had to occasionally leave the patch and fly across the experimental room to reset the reward schedule by hopping on a second perch. Three different lines of investigation were followed to test which of the three departure rules were employed: (a) a statistical analysis showed that there was a strong tendency for great tits to leave the patch only after several successive hops had gone unrewarded; (b) a computer simulation showed that a simple giving-up rule could produce a distribution of patch residence times similar to that observed; (c) an experiment in which the reward schedule was manipulated, successfully altered the patch residence times in accord with predictions made on the basis of a giving-up time rule. Thus, all three tests produced evidence in favour of the giving-up time rule. Although the great tits used a giving-up time rule, a residence time would have resulted in a higher rate of intake. One potential explanation of this apparent error is that the natural food of great tits has a clumped distribution, to which a giving-up time is better suited than a residence time rule. Finally, I point out that the observed giving-up time was much more variable than might be expected if it were adjusted solely in response to the habitat rate of intake. I suggest some hypotheses to explain this large variation.

Affiliations: 1: Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Department of Zoology, Oxford, U.K.


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Behaviour — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation