Chance events and strategic behavior in the predator-prey interactions of fishes

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S3-7  Mon Jan 4 15:00 – 15:30  Chance events and strategic behavior in the predator-prey interactions of fishes McHenry, MJ*; Peterson, AN; Soto, AP; University of California, Irvine

Predator-prey interactions are critical to the biology of a diversity of animals. Understanding predatory behavior can offer critical insight into the ecology and evolution of a species and a means to evaluate the biological significance of sensing and locomotion. In this pursuit, models of mechanics and behavioral algorithms offer a basis for understanding the major factors that govern the motion of a predator or prey. However, the deterministic framework of mathematical modeling commonly neglects the significance of natural variation in performance and the role of chance events. Descriptive statistics may conversely characterize patterns of variation without offering a predictive understanding. Here we present a research program that aims to test the effects of biological variation in sensing and locomotion on prey capture through an application of agent-based stochastic modeling that is common to some fields of economics. Over a series of studies, we performed kinematic measurements of predator-prey interactions in fishes and modeled the behavioral algorithms of both animals with both fixed and random parameters. We interrogated the effects of variation in the sensory and motor characteristics of these animals through sensitivity analyses using a Monte-Carlo approach. This work has shown how predatory fishes target their prey, tested the relative importance of sensory and locomotor performance in prey survival, and examined how prey strategy varies with the sensory cues offered by a predator. Our findings illustrate the utility of agent-based stochastic models for testing the sensorimotor basis of prey capture and predator evasion. This approach has the potential to offer insight into the mechanistic basis of a wide variety of behaviors.

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