Population Ecology

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 187–196

The advantage of alternative tactics of prey and predators depends on the spatial pattern of prey and social interactions among predators

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10144-011-0286-1

Cite this article as:
Scharf, I., Ovadia, O. & Foitzik, S. Popul Ecol (2012) 54: 187. doi:10.1007/s10144-011-0286-1


Individual variation in behavioral strategies is ubiquitous in nature. Yet, explaining how this variation is being maintained remains a challenging task. We use a spatially-explicit individual-based simulation model to evaluate the extent to which the efficiency of an alternative spacing tactic of prey and an alternative search tactic of predators are influenced by the spatial pattern of prey, social interactions among predators (i.e., interference and information sharing) and predator density. In response to predation risk, prey individuals can either spread out or aggregate. We demonstrate that if prey is extremely clumped, spreading out may help when predators share information regarding prey locations and when predators shift to area-restricted search following an encounter with prey. However, dispersion is counter-selected when predators interact by interference, especially under high predator density. When predators search for more randomly distributed prey, interference and information sharing similarly affect the relative advantage of spreading out. Under a clumped prey spatial pattern, predators benefit from shifting their search tactic to an area-restricted search following an encounter with prey. This advantage is moderated as predator density increases and when predators interact either by interference or information sharing. Under a more random prey pattern, information sharing may deteriorate the inferior search tactic even more, compared to interference or no interaction among predators. Our simulation clarifies how interactions among searching predators may affect aggregation behavior of prey, the relative success of alternative search tactics and their potential to invade established populations using some other search or spacing tactics.


Alternative strategies Area-restricted search Dispersion Foraging Frequency-dependent selection Spreading out 

Supplementary material

10144_2011_286_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (270 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 270 kb)

Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyJohannes Gutenberg University of MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Department of Life SciencesBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeershebaIsrael

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