Great Plains Natural Science Society


Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 39(2): June 2007, pp 77-85


Copyright © 2007 The Great Plains Natural Science Society


Classical optimal foraging theory (OFT) predicts that an animal forages optimally when it chooses foods with the highest energy benefit or minimizes time searching for and handling food. r evaluated OFT by presenting eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) multiple food items (i.e., sunflower seeds and • fruits) in various density combinations. When the choice was between foods of equal energy benefits but different costs, they chose forage items with greater costs, seemingly not foraging optimally. However, individuals showed a partial preference for food items which minimized search time, but not handling time. The eastern fox squirrel also was found to be a generalist forager with a preference for larger food. Thus, food size might be a cue that usually leads to optimal foraging.