Letter | Published:

Influence of a predator on the optimal foraging behaviour of sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.)

Nature volume 275, pages 642644 (19 October 1978) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

ACCORDING to the principle of natural selection, each individual animal is assumed to maximise its inclusive fitness1. Thus, observed behaviour patterns should result from optimisation processes involving costs and benefits measured in a currency of fitness2,3. Certain foraging strategies have been shown to maximise energy intake per unit time3–6. Maximisation of the rate of energy intake, however, is an optimal strategy only if feeding behaviour does not conflict with other needs, such as the detection of predators. If the foraging animal runs a high risk of being preyed upon, the optimal strategy may be a compromise of both needs. A predator's influence on optimal foraging has been dealt with, so far, only in a hypothetical manner3,5. We have investigated this problem experimentally using three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) attacking a swarm of water fleas (Daphnia magna). We report here that after exposure to a model of an avian predator the sticklebacks' foraging behaviour changes such that they attack swarm regions of lower density which provide a lower feeding rate but should increase their ability to detect an approaching predator. This is predicted by a model using Pontryagin's principle of maximisation.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    Theor. Biol. 7, 1–53 (1964).

  2. 2.

    & Am. Nat. 110, 601–617 (1976).

  3. 3.

    Rev. ecol. Sys. 2, 369–404 (1971).

  4. 4.

    , , & Anim. Behav. 25, 30–38 (1977).

  5. 5.

    Am. Nat. 110, 141–151 (1976).

  6. 6.

    , & Quart. Rev. Biol. 52, 137–154 (1977).

  7. 7.

    Tierpsychol. 45, 373–388 (1977).

  8. 8.

    Ecology 3, 122–126 (1922).

  9. 9.

    Physiol. Zool. 7, 85–128 (1934).

  10. 10.

    Mathematical Bioeconomics: The Optimal Management of Renewable Resources. (Wiley & Sons, New York, 1976).

  11. 11.

    Grzimeks Tierleben IX Vögel (Kindler, Zurich, 1970).

  12. 12.

    thesis Univ. Oxford (1962).

  13. 13.

    thesis Univ. Oxford (1974).

  14. 14.

    Science 132, 896–897 (1960).

  15. 15.

    Anim. Behav. 22, 501–505 (1974).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Arbeitsgruppe für Verhaltensforschung, Abteilung für Biologie, Ruhr-Universität, Postfach 102148, 463 Bochum, W. Germany

    • MANFRED MILINSKI
    •  & ROLF HELLER

Authors

  1. Search for MANFRED MILINSKI in:

  2. Search for ROLF HELLER in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/275642a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.