Foraging Guppies and the Ideal Free Distribution: The Influence of Information on Patch Choice


Department of Fisheries & Oceans, Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada V9R 5K6


10 male and 10 female guppies were each examined foraging for food at 2 separate feeders. The feeders provided food over a wide area so that individuals had equal access to the food. As the proportion of food at a feeder was altered, the proportion of fish using that feeder changed to match the availability of food. Thus, both groups of fish conformed to the predictions of the ideal free distribution (IFD) theory.

However, the behaviour of the two groups differed. During these experiments, males continued to shuttle between these feeders whereas females tended to remain at a feeder. Also, the female group conformed less well to an IFD on the first trial of each day but conformed more closely to an IFD in successive exposures to the same food distribution. The male group exhibited no improvement with increasing experience. For both groups, the relative influence of the previous day's experience on foraging decisions declined with time. However, unlike the male group, the female group relied on experience for their initial foraging decisions. It is possible that sampling by males provides the additional benefit of increasing their probability of encountering receptive females. This may account for the difference in information use by the male and female group.