Geometry for a selfish foraging group: A genetic algorithm approach

Z. Barta, R. Flynn, L. A. Giraldeau

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64 Citations (Scopus)


The advantages of group living are not shared equally among all group members, and these advantages may depend on the spatial position occupied by a forager within the group. For instance, it is thought that socially dominant individuals prefer the predator-safe central position of groups forcing subordinates to the periphery. Uneven spread of benefits among group members can occur when some animals (the scroungers) parasitically exploit the food findings of other foragers (the producers). Here we focus on how playing producer or scrounger affects an individual's spatial position within a group. We model the movement of foraging animals playing scrounger or producer using a spatially explicit simulation, and use a genetic algorithm to establish movement rules. We find that groups containing producers and scroungers are more compact compared to an equivalent group of producers only. Furthermore, the position occupied by strategies varies: scroungers are mainly found in central positions, with producers in the periphery suggesting that the best position for strategies differs. Dominants, therefore, should prefer movement rules which lead to central positions because of the positional benefits provided to the scrounger strategy they use. Moreover, position within a group will introduce an asymmetry among otherwise phenotypically symmetric individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1233-1238
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1385
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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