Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Search Time

  • Mark A. KrauseEmail author
  • Lyra Skopos
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2650-2



The search phase of foraging refers to movements or strategic waiting that increases an animal’s chances of finding food, and search time is the interval between the onset of those activities and prey capture.

In ethological terms, searching is a part of the appetitive phase of a motivated behavior, such as seeking food, water, or a mate. With regard to predatory behavior, searching may involve active, directed movement within areas where prey have previously been encountered, waiting in ambush for prey, or increased movement within the predator’s home range where prey may be present. Both endogenous (hunger) and exogenous (movement, sound) cues can elicit search behavior. Once a food item or source has been secured, the predator engages in handling and ingestion responses (consummatory responses in ethological terms).

The time spent searching for prey represents a cost to the forager in terms of energy spent, time away from other survival and fitness...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Alpern, S., Fokkink, R., Timmer, M., & Casas, J. (2011). Ambush frequency should increase over time during optimal predator search for prey. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 8, 1665–1672.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Schoener, T. W. (1971). Theory of feeding strategy. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 2, 369–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Timberlake, W. (1994). Behavior systems, associationism, and Pavlovian conditioning. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 1, 405–420.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Williams, W. A., & Fantino, E. (1994). Delay reduction and optimal foraging: Variable-ratio search in a foraging analogue. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 61(3), 465–477.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Southern Oregon UniversityAshlandUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Russell Jackson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IdahoMoscowUSA