DOI: 10.1007/s10144-009-0175-z

Quantitative descriptions of resource choice in ecological models

1. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Correspondence to:
Peter Abrams



This article reviews the subject of resource choice by consumers. It is concerned with how such choice has been and should be represented in quantitative ecological models. This requires consideration of the dynamics of behavioral change and the fitness consequences of different resource intake rates. The topic is important because of the impact of choice on the functional response of the consumer to each of the resources it consumes. A variety of open questions related to choice are addressed. These include: the relationship between optimal diet choice and switching; the relationship between adaptive choice of two or resources and type-3 functional responses to a single resource; whether switching behavior requires choice and whether choice always results in switching behavior; why partial preferences are observed; whether choice between habitats is fundamentally different from choice within habitats; how between-individual variation in parameters related to resource use alters functional responses measured at the population level. The impacts of choice on stability are discussed briefly. The costs of increased resource use and the type of nutritional interactions between resources are particularly important determinants of adaptive resource choice, and are considered in some detail.

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