Playing the waiting game: Predator and prey in a test environment Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: Optimal behaviour of a predator depends on what its prey are doing and vice versa. Yet empirical tests of optimal foraging generally take place with only one of the two species free to adjust its behaviour. Question: Do predators and prey follow predictions of optimality when they are interacting and each is free to adjust its behaviour? Organisms: Commercially purchased common goldfish (Carassius auratus) and wild-caught little egrets (Egretta garzetta). Experimental arenas: Covered circular enclosures (radius 3.5 m), each with three artificial pools (radius 0.76 m). Each pool had a habitat where the goldfish could hide, and an open habitat where they could collect their food but were exposed to predation. Methods: An egret was allowed to forage in an arena each of whose pools contained 15 goldfish (replaced daily according to the number consumed). We measured the time …

publication date

  • January 1, 2010