Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Mathematical and Computer Modelling 33 (2001), pp. 597–607.


Copyright © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. Used by permission.


Simple behavioral rules, or “rules of thumb,” which lead to behavior that closely approximates an optimal strategy, have generated a lot of recent interest in the field of foraging behavior. In this paper, we derive rules of thumb from a stochastic simulation model in which the foragers behave optimally. We use a particular biological system: the patch leaving behavior of a parasitoid. We simulate parasitoids whose patch leaving behavior is determined by a stochastic dynamic programming (SDP) model, while allowing parasitoids to make mistakes in their estimation of host density when arriving in a patch We use Cox’s proportional hazards models to obtain statistical rules of thumb from the simulated behavior. This represents the first use of a proportional hazard approximation to generate rules of thumb from a complex optimal strategy.

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