The temporal selfish herd: predation risk while aggregations form


Morrell, L. J., Ruxton, G. D. and James, R., 2011. The temporal selfish herd: predation risk while aggregations form. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278 (1705), pp. 605-612.

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The hypothesis of the selfish herd has been highly influential to our understanding of animal aggregation. Various movement strategies have been proposed by which individuals might aggregate to form a selfish herd as a defence against predation, but although the spatial benefits of these strategies have been extensively studied, little attention has been paid to the importance of predator attacks that occur while the aggregation is forming. We investigate the success of mutant aggregation strategies invading populations of individuals using alternative strategies and find that the invasion dynamics depend critically on the time scale of movement. If predation occurs early in the movement sequence, simpler strategies are likely to prevail. If predators attack later, more complex strategies invade. If there is variation in the timing of predator attacks (through variation within or between individual predators), we hypothesize that groups will consist of a mixture of strategies, dependent upon the distribution of predator attack times. Thus, behavioural diversity can evolve and be maintained in populations of animals experiencing a diverse range of predators differing solely in their attack behaviour. This has implications for our understanding of predator-prey dynamics, as the timing of predator attacks will exert selection pressure on prey behavioural responses, to which predators must respond.


Item Type Articles
CreatorsMorrell, L. J., Ruxton, G. D. and James, R.
Uncontrolled Keywordsanti-predator behaviour,aggregation,selfish herd,group living
DepartmentsFaculty of Humanities & Social Sciences > Psychology
Faculty of Science > Physics
Research CentresCentre for Mathematical Biology
ID Code23099


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