Foraging Behavior

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Foraging behavior has always been a central concern of ecology. Understanding what animals eat is clearly an essential component of under- standing many ecological issues including energy flow, competition and adaptation. Theoretical and empirical developments in the late 1960's and 1970's led to a new emphasis in the study of foraging behavior, the study of individual animals in both field and laboratory. This development, in turn, led to an explosion of interest in foraging. Part of the reason for this explosion is that when foraging is studied at the individual level, it is relevant to many disciplines. Behaviorists, including ethologists and psychologists, are interested in any attempt to understand behavior. Ecologists know that a better understanding of foraging will contribute to resolving a number of important ecological issues. Anthropologists and others are applying the ideas coming out of the study of foraging behavior to problems within their disciplines. These developments led to a multidisciplinary symposium on foraging behavior, held as part of the 1978 Animal Behavior Society meetings in Seattle, Washington. Many ecologists, ethologists and psychologists participated or attended. The symposium was very successful. generating a high level of excitement. As a result, the participants decided to publish the proceedings of the symposium (Kami1 & Sargent 1981).