Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hungry sharks take strange walks to find food

29.02.2008
Sharks and other marine animals find food using a similar search pattern to the way people may shop, according to one of the largest analyses of foraging behaviour attempted so far – and the first such analysis of marine predators.

The results of the international study, published in the journal Nature today, shows that the animals’ behaviour seems to have evolved as a general ‘rule’ to search for sparsely distributed prey in the vast expanse of the ocean. This rule involves a special pattern of random movement known as a Levy Walk, where the predators use a series of small motions interspersed with large jumps to new foraging locations. This increases the chance of finding food, however widely scattered it might be.

Dr David Sims from the Marine Biological Association and the University of Plymouth, who led the research, said, ‘Systematic searching is not the most efficient strategy if you’re looking for sparse items. If you go to the supermarket to buy eggs you look for them in one place, and if you don’t find them there you choose another location to look in. You probably won’t start at one end of the supermarket and search every aisle. Predators increase energy gain by adopting the Levy Walk, so they can travel further to find food.’

The researchers analysed the dive data from sophisticated electronic tags attached to a diverse range of marine predators, such as sharks, tuna, cod, sea turtles and penguins, in various locations around the world. They compared this data to the distribution patterns of their prey and found similarities, suggesting that the predators have evolved this search rule to get the best possible results from their foraging expeditions.

Dr Sims said, ‘We developed a computer model from the foraging data, and this confirmed that the observed patterns were indeed optimal for naturally dynamic prey fields. The search rule seems to be a general solution for success in complex and changeable environments.’

Similar movement patterns appear to be present in other species’ behaviour, including human travel dynamics, hinting that the patterns discovered by the team may be universal. If so, they could prove useful for programming robots to be more successful when collecting samples from inhospitable places such as active volcanoes, the deep sea or on other planets. Understanding the patterns could also shed new light on how early humans explored and colonised the continents.

The research involved an international collaboration of behavioural ecologists, mathematicians and engineers from the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. It was funded principally by the Natural Environment Research Council, Defra, the Royal Society and the Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

Marion O'Sullivan | alfa
Further information:
http://www.nature.com/index.html
http://www.nerc.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>