Food Selection and Capture by Consumers
The last chapter focused on the importance of food quantity. It turns out, however, that quality of food items must also be considered. Moreover, even though there may be sufficient abundance of food items of adequate quality, they may not be easily vulnerable or accessible to consumers. In this chapter, we take up the search for available food particles of sufficient quality. First, we consider cues used by consumers in finding and selecting food of appropriate quality and the role of properties of the food and consumer, particularly size and chemical makeup, in food choice. We then consider the relative vulnerability of food items, mainly in reference to the morphology of prey and the physical structure of the habitat. Last, we consider consequences of food selection, especially in regard to changes of populations of items consumed.