The forager's dilemma: Food sharing and food defense as risk-sensitive foraging options

Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Case postale 8888, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec H3C 3P8, Canada.
The American Naturalist (Impact Factor: 4.45). 01/2004; 162(6):768-79. DOI: 10.1086/379202
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although many variants of the hawk-dove game predict the frequency at which group foraging animals should compete aggressively, none of them can explain why a large number of group foraging animals share food clumps without any overt aggression. One reason for this shortcoming is that hawk-dove games typically consider only a single contest, while most group foraging situations involve opponents that interact repeatedly over discovered food clumps. The present iterated hawk-dove game predicts that in situations that are analogous to a prisoner's dilemma, animals should share the resources without aggression, provided that the number of simultaneously available food clumps is sufficiently large and the number of competitors is relatively small. However, given that the expected gain of an aggressive animal is more variable than the gain expected by nonaggressive individuals, the predicted effect of the number of food items in a clump-clump richness-depends on whether only the mean or both the mean and variability associated with payoffs are considered. More precisely, the deterministic game predicts that aggression should increase with clump richness, whereas the stochastic risk-sensitive game predicts that the frequency of encounters resulting in aggression should peak at intermediate clump richnesses or decrease with increasing clump richness if animals show sensitivity to the variance or coefficient of variation, respectively.

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