Multi-objective behavioural mechanisms are adopted by foraging animals to achieve several optimality goals simultaneously

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Abstract

1.

Animals foraging for resources are under a variety of selective pressures, and separate optimality models have been developed predicting the optimal reproductive strategies they should adopt.

2.

In most cases, the proximate behavioural mechanisms adopted to achieve such optimality goals have been identified. This is the case, for example, for optimal patch time and sex allocation in insect parasitoids. However, behaviours modelled within this framework have mainly been studied separately, even though real animals have to optimize some behaviours simultaneously.

3.

For this reason, it would be better if proximate behavioural rules were designed to attain several goals simultaneously. Despite their importance, such multi-objective proximate rules remain to be discovered.

4.

Based on experiments on insect parasitoids that simultaneously examine their optimal patch time and sex allocation strategies, it is shown here that animals can adopt multi-objective behavioural mechanisms that appear consistent with the two optimal goals simultaneously.

5.

Results of computer simulations demonstrate that these behavioural mechanisms are indeed consistent with optimal reproductive strategies and have thus been most likely selected over the course of the evolutionary time.

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