Resource distributions and diet development by trial-and-error learning
We study interactions between resource distributions, grouping, and diet development in foragers who learn by trial-and-error. We do this by constructing an individual-based model where individuals move and forage in groups in a 2-D space with high resource diversity and learn what to eat. By comparing diet development in different resource distributions, and in gregarious and solitary individuals, we elucidate how these factors affect patterns of diet variation. Our results indicate that different resource distributions have profound effects on learning opportunities, and thereby lead to contrasting phenomena. In uniform environments, local resource depletion by gregarious individuals, in interaction with learning, leads to diet differentiation. In patchy environments, grouping leads to enhanced diet overlap within groups and leads to differences in diet between groups. Surprisingly, mixed environments can generate all these phenomena simultaneously. Our results predict relationships between diet variation, trial-and-error learning, and resource distributions. The phenomena we describe are not evolved strategies, but arise spontaneously when groups of individuals learn to forage in certain resource distributions. This suggests that describing diet specialization or diet homogenization as the result of behavioral strategies may not always be justified.
KeywordsIndividual-based model Individual diet “specialization” Social learning Intergroup diet variation Group foragers
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Altmann SA (1998) Foraging for survival. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, ILGoogle Scholar
- te Boekhorst I, Hogeweg P (1994) Self-structuring in artificial ‘CHIMPS’ offers new hypotheses for male grouping in chimpanzees. Behaviour 12:229–252Google Scholar
- Boyd R, Richerson R (1988) An evolutionary model of social learning: the effects of spatial and temporal variation. In: Zentall T, Galef BG Jr (eds) Social learning: psychological and biological perspectives. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, pp 29–48Google Scholar
- Feldman MW, Aoki K, Kumm J (1996) Individual versus social learning: evolutionary analysis in a fluctuating environment. Anthropol Sci 104:209–232Google Scholar
- Fragaszy DM, Visalberghi E (1996) Social learning in monkeys: primate “Primacy” reconsidered. In: Galef BG Jr, Heyes C (eds) Social learning in animals: the roots of culture. Academic, New York, pp 65–84Google Scholar
- Galef BG (1988) Imitation in animals: history, definition, and interpretation of data from the psychological laboratory. In: Zentall T, Galef BG Jr (eds) Social learning: psychological and biological perspecitives. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, pp 3–28Google Scholar
- Hinton GE, Nowlan SJ (1987) How learning can guide evolution. Complex Syst 1:495–502Google Scholar
- Mead R, Curnow RN, Hasted AM (1993) Statistical methods in agriculture and experimental biology, 2nd edn. Chapman & Hall, London, UKGoogle Scholar
- Provenza FD (1995) Postingestive feedback as an elementary determinant of food preference and intake in ruminants. J Range Manag 48:2–17Google Scholar