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Keywords:

  • diving;
  • water depth;
  • foraging efficiency;
  • prey density

Abstract

When prey availability depends on water depth, a diver should choose an optimal depth for foraging. A model that predicts the optimal foraging depth for a diver is presented in this paper. General predictions derived from the model are: (1) optimal foraging depth is always shallower than the depth at which prey density is the highest, even if the depth of the highest prey density is within easy reach; (2) a larger diver should make deeper and longer dives and stay longer on the surface than smaller divers for optimal foraging; (3) foraging efficiency of larger divers is not always greater than smaller divers, although the larger divers forage at the depth of higher prey density. These predictions, derived from the model, are consistent with the comparative studies of diving behaviour in marine birds.