Summary

This chapter introduces theoretical and empirical approaches to social foraging. We have emphasized the intrinsic complexity ofdecision making in a social context. Social foragers cannot act as if they were alone. Their decisions must reflect the actions of others. This economic interdependence often implies negative frequency dependence: the payoffs for a strategy decline when more individuals adopt it. Likewise, the payoffs for an individual foraging within a particular habitat patch decline when more individuals forage in that patch.

We have reviewed both competitive and cooperative aspects of social foraging. In doing so, we have asked about a variety ofjoining decisions. When should a solitary individual join a foraging group? When should an individual in a group refrain from joining the food discoveries of others? When should unrelated foragers form cooperative alliances? Can joint foraging evolve despite fitness costs for the cooperator? These problems offer many exciting opportunities for additional work. Throughout, we have tried to emphasize specific challenges for future workers. To corrupt a metaphor (Giraldeau and Caraco 2000), we have just entered the social foraging patch and have not yet begun to experience diminishing returns.

362 Thomas A. Waite and Kristin L. Field 10.7 Suggested Readings

Giraldeau and Caraco (2000) offer an excellent, timely, and comprehensive synthesis ofsocial foraging theory. Galefand Giraldeau (2001) review how social environment influences foraging by biasing individual learning processes. Crespi (2001) considers the evolutionary ecology of social behavior, including cooperative foraging, in microorganisms. Sober and Wilson (1998) review evolutionary and psychological aspects of unselfish behavior in humans.

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Foraging Ecology

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