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Does group foraging promote efficient exploitation of resources?

Does group foraging promote efficient exploitation of resources?

Oikos 111(2): 403-407

Increased avoidance of food patches previously exploited by other companions has been proposed as one adaptive benefit of group foraging. However, does group foraging really represent the most efficient way to exploit non- or slowly-renewing resources? Here, I used simulations to explore the costs and benefits of exploiting non-renewing resources by foragers searching for food patches independently or in groups in habitats with different types of resource distribution. Group foragers exploited resources in a patch more quickly and therefore spent proportionately more time locating new patches. Reduced avoidance of areas already exploited by others failed to overcome the increased time cost of searching for new food patches and group foragers thus obtained food at a lower rate than solitary foragers. Group foraging provided one advantage in terms of a reduction in the variance of food intake rate. On its own, reduced avoidance of exploitation competition through group foraging appears unlikely to increase mean food intake rate when exploiting non-renewing patches but may provide a way to reduce the risk of an energy shortfall.

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Accession: 011973926

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DOI: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2005.14136.x

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