Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Cooperative Foraging

  • Mystera M. Samuelson
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3056-1



The process through which two or more individuals benefit from working together to obtain food resources.


Many species benefit from working together, in some form, for the purpose of locating and consuming food. Animals, from insects like the honeybee (Apis spp.) to carnivores such as the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and orca (Orcinus orca), benefit from not only foraging socially but cooperatively. This cooperation has been suggested to be one of the key drivers of evolution, sparking unique cognitive abilities (Wilson 2000).

Cooperative foraging, or by-product mutualism (Connor 1986), distinguishes itself from other social foraging styles (e.g., imitative foraging) in that it occurs when individuals are able to distinguish between group members and engage in altruistic self-restraint and complex communication. These abilities allow group members to coordinate behaviors to achieve a common goal, thus increasing individual foraging...


Food Resource Bottlenose Dolphin Cooperative Communication Gray Wolf Reciprocal Altruism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (1989). The evolution of indirect reciprocity. Social Networks, 11, 213–236. doi:10.1016/0378-8733(89)90003-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Clark, C. W., & Mangel, M. (1986). The evolutionary advantages of group foraging. Theoretical Population Ecology, 30(1), 45–75. doi:10.1016/0040-5809(86)90024-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Connor, R. C. (1986). Pseudo-reciprocity: Investing in mutualism. Animal Behaviour, 34(5), 1562–1566. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(86)80225-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Gazda, S. K., Connor, R. C., Edgar, R. K., & Cox, F. (2005). A division of labour with role specialization in group-hunting bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off Cedar Key, Florida. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272, 135–140.Google Scholar
  5. Gilby, I. C. (2006). Meat sharing among the Gombe chimpanzees: Harassment and reciprocal exchange. Animal Behaviour, 71(4), 953–963. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2005.09.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hamilton, W. D. (1964). The genetical evolution of social behaviour. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 7(1), 1–16. doi:10.1016/0022-5193(64)90038-4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Keynan, O., Ridley, A. R., & Lotem, A. (2015). Social foraging strategies and acquisition of novel foraging skills in cooperatively breeding Arabian babblers. Behavioral Ecology, 26(1), 207–214. doi:10.1093/beheco/aru181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kurland, J. A., & Beckerman, S. J. (1985). Optimal foraging and hominid evolution: Labor and reciprocity. American Anthropologist, 87(1), 73–93. doi:10.1525/aa.1985.87.1.02a00070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lima, S. L. (1995). Back to the basics of anti-predatory vigilance: The group-size effect. Animal Behaviour, 49(1), 11–20. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(95)80149-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mech, L. D. (1970). The wolf: The ecology and behavior of an endangered species. New York: Doubleday Publishing Co..Google Scholar
  11. Nolin, D. A. (2012). Food-sharing networks in Lamalera, Indonesia: Status, sharing, and signaling. Evolution & Human Behavior, 33(4), 334–345. doi:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2011.11.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nowak, M. A. (2006). Five rules for the evolution of cooperation. Science, 314(5805), 1560–1563. doi:10.1126/science.1133755.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Torney, C. J., Berdahl, A., & Couzin, I. D. (2011). Signaling and the evolution of cooperative foraging in dynamic environments. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(9). doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002194.Google Scholar
  14. Vasquez, R. (1997). Vigilance and social foraging in Octodon degus (Rodentia: Octodontidae) in central Chile. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 70, 557–563. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.2006.01242.x.Google Scholar
  15. Wilson, E. O. (2000). Sociobiology: The new synthesis. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute for Marine Mammal StudiesGulfportUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Catherine Salmon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of RedlandsRedlandsUSA