Consuming and grouping: recource-mediated animal aggregation


W.G. Wilson Department of Zoology, and Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology Group, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0325.E-mail:


We demonstrate that a simplistic foraging rule for a consumer in a spatially explicit resource environment leads to consumer grouping. Although consumer groups sweeping through the renewing resource environment represents the model’s dynamical attractor, for short time scales (represented by a constant total consumer population) three different distributions emerge. At low consumer density, population distributions are variable and spatially fixed, but not grouped. Moving groups erupt at intermediate consumer densities. At high consumer density, there is no spatial variability in the resource and consumer densities. Similar results have been observed in a variety of empirical systems. The results suggest interesting insights will arise by examining social interactions within a resource-consumer modeling framework.