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Simulation and Analysis of Information-Center Foraging

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I present a mathematical model and simulation of information-center (IC) foraging (WARD & ZAHAVI, 1973). The results indicate that the most important condition for supporting an IC is time-limited foraging in patches supporting multiple individuals. Foraging rate is enhanced by information exchange even where the probability of finding food is otherwise relatively high (i.e. not, as generally assumed, exclusively where food is "unpredictable"). The effects of IC foraging are strongest for small populations (N < 20), though they increase marginally as the number of individuals increases. One can determine the critical patch-duration at which IC foraging becomes profitable and how individuals may optimally distribute search time between active scouting and vicarious search (through recruitment in the IC). As food becomes difficult to find, the optimal proportion of time an individual should scout on its own approaches roughly one-half.

Affiliations: 1: (Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago


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