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Am Nat. 2001 Nov;158(5):505-18. doi: 10.1086/323131.

The effect of resource aggregation at different scales: optimal foraging behavior of Cotesia rubecula.

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  • 1Department of Applied and Molecular Ecology, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Private Bag 1, Glen Osmond, South Australia 5061, Australia.


Resources can be aggregated both within and between patches. In this article, we examine how aggregation at these different scales influences the behavior and performance of foragers. We developed an optimal foraging model of the foraging behavior of the parasitoid wasp Cotesia rubecula parasitizing the larvae of the cabbage butterfly Pieris rapae. The optimal behavior was found using stochastic dynamic programming. The most interesting and novel result is that the effect of resource aggregation within and between patches depends on the degree of aggregation both within and between patches as well as on the local host density in the occupied patch, but lifetime reproductive success depends only on aggregation within patches. Our findings have profound implications for the way in which we measure heterogeneity at different scales and model the response of organisms to spatial heterogeneity.

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