INFORMATIONAL CONSTRAINTS IN OPTIMAL FORAGING: THEORETICAL DEVELOPMENT AND FIELD EXPERIMENTS WITH HUMMINGBIRDS (ARIZONA, CHIRICAHUA).
AuthorMITCHELL, WILLIAM ALBERT.
AdvisorRosenzweig, M. L.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractI consider two types of foraging situations. In the first type, the forager knows the location and quality of no more than one food item or habitat at a time. I call this myopic foraging. In the second situation, the forager may know the location and quality of more than one food item or habitat at a time. I call this periscopic foraging. I develop theoretically both models and the predictions generated by each. Myopic models predict that foragers should have a so-called "bang-bang" control with respect to the choice of food types. Periscopic models predict that foragers will have a continuous control with respect to the choice of food types. I experimentally tested for the presence of each type of control in a field study that employed hummingbirds feeding on artificial resources. As predicted by the theory, the transition of behavior from picky to opportunistic was significantly sharper for the myopic than for the periscopic foragers. Furthermore, theory predicts that there should be some range of relative values of the rich and poor food types over which the myopic foragers are opportunistic, while the periscopic foragers exhibit a partial preference. This prediction was supported by the data. I predicted that the partial preferences of periscopic foragers would result from the hummingbirds exploiting those poor quality feeders which were located nearest to the best foraging path among rich feeders. The data supported this prediction. Periscopic foragers also performed as predicted by becoming more selective on rich feeders as the densities of both rich and poor feeders increased. I developed a model of optimal sampling behavior that hypothesized birds have evolved in an environment of exploitative competition. The model predicted a rule of departure from a resource patch that depended on the presence or absence of nectar in a sampled as well as the expected quality of the nectar. Hummingbirds performed according to the model's predictions.
Degree ProgramEcology & Evolutionary Biology