Animal foraging from an individual perspective: an object orientated model

J A Beecham, K D Farnsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


A model system, HOOFS (Hierarchical Object Orientated Foraging Simulator), has been developed to study foraging by animals in a complex environment. The model is implemented using an individual-based object-orientated structure. Different species of animals inherit their general properties from a generic animal object which inherits from the basic dynamic object class. Each dynamic object is a separate program thread under the control of a central scheduler. The environment is described as a map of small hexagonal patches, each with their own level of resources and a patch-specific rate of resource replenishment. Each group of seven patches (0th order) is grouped into a Ist order super-patch with seven nth order super-patches making up a n + 1th order super-patch for n up to a specified value. At any time each animal is associated with a single patch. Patch choice is made by combining the information on the resources available within different order patches and super-patches along with information on the spatial location of other animals. The degree of sociality of an animal is defined in terms of optimal spacing from other animals and by the weighting of patch choice based on social factors relative to that based on food availability. Information, available to each animal, about patch resources diminishes with distance from that patch. The model has been used to demonstrate that social interactions can constrain patch choice and result in a short-term reduction of intake and a greater degree of variability in the level of resources in patches. We used the model to show that the effect of this variability on the animal's intake depends on the pattern of patch replenishment. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.</p>
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-156
Number of pages16
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 02 Nov 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Ecology


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