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Journal of Mammalian Evolution

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 291–293 | Cite as

Optimal Foraging Theory Rides Again

Foraging: Behavior and Ecology. Edited by David W. Stephens, Joel S. Brown, and Ronald C. Ydenberg. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. 2007. 608 pp., $99.00 (cloth)/$45.00 (paper). ISBN 0-226-77263-2 (cloth)/0-226-77264-0 (paper)
  • Ken Sayers
Book Review

When the history of great scientific polemics is written, it is refreshing to know that behavioral ecology will have at least one representative. And for the chapter on “optimal foraging theory,” one suspects that readers might display some confusion regarding what the fuss was all about. Operating on the assumption that natural selection, by whatever means, has influenced feeding behavior, it utilizes mathematical models to predict what an animal should do given a particular foraging problem under various constraints and assumptions. Although this seems innocent enough, the explosion of interest in foraging theory in the 1970s and 1980s led to some of the most scathing critiques imaginable, all of which viewed the undertaking as tautological and assuming perfection in nature. The arguments of the critics notwithstanding, their article titles remain classic: “Eight reasons why optimal foraging theory is a complete waste of time” (Pierce and Ollason 1987), “Faith and foraging: A...

References

  1. Gray RD (1987) Faith and foraging: a critique of the “paradigm argument from design”. In: Kamil AC, Krebs JR, Pulliam HR (eds) Foraging Behavior. Plenum, New York, pp 69–138Google Scholar
  2. Ollason JG, Lamb AE (1995) The meaninglessness of foraging behaviour. In: Thompson NS (ed) Perspectives in Ethology Volume 11: Behavioral Design. Plenum, New York, pp 279–295Google Scholar
  3. Pierce GJ, Ollason JG (1987) Eight reasons why optimal foraging theory is a complete waste of time. Oikos 49:111–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Schoener TW (1987) A brief history of optimal foraging ecology. In: Kamil AC, Krebs JR, Pulliam HR (eds) Foraging Behavior. Plenum, New York, pp 5–67Google Scholar
  5. Stephens DW (1990) Foraging theory: up, down, and sideways. In: Morrison ML, Ralph CJ, Verner J, Jehl JR Jr (eds) Avian Foraging: Theory, Methodology, and Applications. Allen, Lawrence, pp 444–454Google Scholar
  6. Stephens DW, Krebs JR (1986) Foraging Theory. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and School of Biomedical SciencesKent State UniversityKentUSA

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