Collective foraging in heterogeneous landscapes

Kunal Bhattacharya, Tamás Vicsek

Research output: Article

12 Citations (Scopus)


Animals foraging alone are hypothesized to optimize the encounter rates with resources through Lévy walks. However, the issue of how the interactions between multiple foragers influence their search efficiency is still not completely understood. To address this, we consider a model to study the optimal strategy for a group of foragers searching for targets distributed heterogeneously. In our model, foragers move on a square lattice containing immobile but regenerative targets. At any instant, a forager is able to detect only those targets that happen to be in the same site. However, we allow the foragers to have information about the state of other foragers. A forager who has not detected any target walks towards the nearest location, where another forager has detected a target, with a probability exp(-αd), where d is the distance between the foragers and α is a parameter characterizing the propensity of the foragers to aggregate. The model reveals that neither overcrowding (α → 0) nor independent searching (α →∞) is beneficial for the foragers. For a patchy distribution of targets, the efficiency is maximum for intermediate values of a. In addition, in the limit α →0, the length of the walks can become scale-free.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0674
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - nov. 6 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering

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