Optimal foraging strategy to balance mixed diet by generalist consumers: A simulation model

Tarryn Schuldiner-Harpaz, Moshe Coll, Eric Wajnberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Animals of a wide range of taxonomic groups mix various food sources to achieve a nutritionally balanced diet. The strategies they adopt to balance multiple nutrients depend on their availability in the environment. Behavioural and physiological adaptations to forage for nutrient-differing food sources have rarely been investigated in respect to nutrient availability in the environment. We developed a simulation model to explore the strategy consumers should adopt in response to the abundance of two nutritionally complementary food types. Results show that (1) consumers should invest more effort in detecting the scarce resource; (2) there is an optimized negative relationship between effort foragers should allocate to find the two types of food; (3) consumers should exhibit higher selectivity when the proportion of food types in the habitat deviates from their optimal ratio in the diet. These findings have important implications for pest control using predators that benefit from plant-based food supplements.

Original languageAmerican English
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to acknowledge the support of France Grilles for providing computing resources on the French National Grid Infrastructure. In this respect, this work was achieved using the biomed virtual organisation of the EGI infrastructure, with the dedicated support of resource centres BEINJING-LCG2, IN2P3-IRES, OBSPM, INFN-FERRARA, GRIF, INFN-CATANIA, INFN-ROMA3, INFN-BARI, CREATIS-INSA-LYON, NCG-INGRID-PT, INFN-PISA, CESNET-MCC and CLOUFIN, resource centres in UK hosted by GridPP collaboration, and the additional support of the resource centres listed here: http://operations-portal.egi.eu/vapor/resources/GL2Browser?VOfilter=biomed . T. Schuldiner-Harpaz was supported by the Blavatnik Postdoctoral Fellowships Program and an Awardee of the Weizmann Institute of Science – National Postdoctoral Award Program for Advancing Women in Science. Moshe Coll and Eric Wajnberg acknowledge support from the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies for the research group program ‘Mathematical modelling of biological control interactions to support agriculture and conservation’.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Copyright 2022 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • generalist consumers
  • genetic algorithm
  • mixed diet
  • omnivory


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