On Evaluation of Foraging Strategies Through Estimates of Reproductive Success

  • Robert G. Jaeger
  • Jeffrey Lucas
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 20)


Foraging theories make predictions about how animals should behave so as to maximize energy gains, or gains in some other currency, given certain constraints. One assumption of such theories is that an animal that forages according to predictions will acquire more resources, and thus will have higher “fitness”, than a conspecific that fails to forage by the theoretical rules. This assumption is seldom tested in any way directly related to reproductive success of individuals, and thus foraging theories may be accused of a certain amount of circular reasoning. For example, say that theory predicts that under certain conditions, a forager should ingest all encountered items of prey type 1 and should “ignore” encountered items of prey type 2; the assumption is that such behavior will eventually contribute to the fitness (defined vaguely here as reproductive success) of the forager. The theoretical prediction is tested empirically, and the resulting data closely fit the prediction. The inference drawn from the test is that the forager must have higher potential fitness than foragers that might have performed in other ways (such as eating prey type 2 and ignoring prey type 1).


Reproductive Success Mate Choice Prey Type Common Tern Crab Spider 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert G. Jaeger
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Lucas
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Southwestern LouisianaLafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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