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Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892

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BuyFindarrow_forward

Biology: The Dynamic Science (Mind...

4th Edition
Peter J. Russell + 2 others
ISBN: 9781305389892
Textbook Problem

According to optimal foraging theory, predators:

a. always feed on the largest prey possible.

b. always feed on the prey that are easiest to catch.

c. choose prey based on the costs of capturing and consuming it compared to the energy it provides.

d. feed on plants when animal prey are scarce.

e. have coevolved mechanisms to overcome prey defenses.

Summary Introduction

Introduction:

Foraging, that is, searching for food in the wild, requires both time and energy. Optimal foraging theory is the theory that states how an animal behaves while searching for food. This model shows how an animal forages for food, which consumes less energy and time but gets sufficient energy from the prey that is consumed.

Answer

Correct answer:

As per the optimal foraging theory, predators choose prey based on the costs of capturing (hunting) and consuming it compared to the effective energy it provides.

Explanation

Justification/explanation for the correct answer:

Option (c) states that the predator chooses prey based on the costs of capturing and consuming it compared to the energy it provides. The optimal foraging theory shows how an animal searches for food. In the process, the energy consumed and time spent do not get compromised or exceed during the prey hunt. The prey chosen should fit the eating habit and the requirement of energy along with the diet of the predator. Hence, option (c) is correct.

Explanation for the incorrect answers:

Option (a) states that the predator always feeds on the largest prey possible as per the optimal foraging theory. This may lead to expenditure of more energy in search of bigger prey. Thus, it affects the predator’s overall efficiency when the entire energy is spent in the search of the biggest prey. In case this happens, the predator may not be able to spend any energy in mating or securing its habitat from its competitors. So, it is an incorrect option.

Option (b) states that the predator always feeds on the prey that is easier to catch as per the optimal foraging theory. This action may not be able to provide the predator sufficient amount of energy and thus, can affect the overall performance of the predator. So, it is an incorrect option.

Option (d) states that the predator feeds on plants when its preys are scarce, as per the optimal foraging theory. Some animals are carnivorous in nature. They will not get sufficient energy even if they are feed on plants as their digestive system and other systems are adapted according to the carnivorous nature. So, it is an incorrect option.

Option (e) states that the optimal foraging theory explains the coevolution mechanisms of the predators to overcome prey defenses. Coevolution does occur, but it is applicable to both the predator and the prey. Coevolution is another aspect of evolution and adaptation, which is not a part of optimal foraging theory. So, it is an incorrect option.

Hence, options (a), (b), (d), and (e) are incorrect.

Conclusion

Thus, according to the optimal foraging theory, predators choose and hunt preys that consume less energy and time. However, the capture should be capable enough to provide them sufficient energy that might be utilized for other activities like mating, territorialization, and nurturing their young ones.

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