Constraints on Diet Selection and Foraging Behaviour in Mammalian Herbivores

  • A. W. Illius
  • I. J. Gordon
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 20)


In a recent critique of optimality theory, Gray (1986) questioned the validity and usefulness of the optimality approach to the empirical study of foraging behaviour. He called instead for an epigenetic approach integrating morphological, physiological and behavioural processes. Without denying the role of optimality theory as a quantification of the premise that natural selection leads to adaptation (see Krebs & McCleery 1984), it must be recognised that optimality is an obscure condition to the extent that constraints are poorly defined. In this paper, we attempt to clarify and quantify the morphological, physiological and behavioural constraints on foraging in mammalian herbivores.


Intake Rate Mammalian Herbivore Item Size Diet Selection Sward Height 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. W. Illius
    • 1
  • I. J. Gordon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AgricultureUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland
  2. 2.Macaulay Land Use Research Institute Pentlandfield RoslinMidlothianScotland

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