Prey field switching based on preferential behaviour can induce Lévy flights

Mathieu G Lundy, Alan Harrison, Daniel J Buckley, Emma S Boston, David D Scott, Emma C Teeling, W Ian Montgomery, Jonathan D R Houghton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Using the foraging movements of an insectivorous bat, Myotis mystacinus, we describe temporal switching of foraging behaviour in response to resource availability. These observations conform to predictions of optimized search under the Lévy flight paradigm. However, we suggest that this occurs as a result of a preference behaviour and knowledge of resource distribution. Preferential behaviour and knowledge of a familiar area generate distinct movement patterns as resource availability changes on short temporal scales. The behavioural response of predators to changes in prey fields can elicit different functional responses, which are considered to be central in the development of stable predator–prey communities. Recognizing how the foraging movements of an animal relate to environmental conditions also elucidates the evolution of optimized search and the prevalence of discrete strategies in natural systems. Applying techniques that use changes in the frequency distribution of movements facilitates exploration of the processes that underpin behavioural changes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20120489
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number78
Early online date10 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2013


  • Lévy flight
  • functional responses
  • bats
  • areoecology


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