Date of this Version
The Prairie Naturalist 39(2): June 2007, pp 77-85
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.