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A Brief History of Optimal Foraging Ecology

  • Chapter
Foraging Behavior

Abstract

Optimal foraging ecology began in 1966 with the back-to-back publication in American Naturalist of two papers, one by MacArthur and Pianka, the other by Emlen. Although different in detail, the papers were collectively unique in their proposal that prey selectivity could be understood as driven by a tendency, selected through evolution, to maximize net energy gained per unit time feeding. The temporal coincidence of the two papers suggests that the ecological world was as ready to receive this proposal as to invent it. Indeed, in the 20 years since, hundreds of papers mentioning optimal foraging have been published—like other areas of science (Price 1963) and ecology (Schoener 1974a, 1983a), optimal foraging enjoyed an exponential growth phase which is only now beginning to inflect (Pyke 1984, and below).

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Schoener, T.W. (1987). A Brief History of Optimal Foraging Ecology. In: Kamil, A.C., Krebs, J.R., Pulliam, H.R. (eds) Foraging Behavior. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-1839-2_1

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