Foraging: Build a foraging theory to save the crops

Time to complete course: 30 min.

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About Foraging: Build a foraging theory to save the crops Virtual Lab Simulation

Can we predict where, when and how animals will be looking for food? In this simulation, you will learn about the behaviours that regulate the foraging habits of animals. Discover the notions of foraging currency, daily budget and the optimality model, all of which can be used to predict the foraging patterns.

Protecting crops from a local forager

Scientists on the exoplanet Astakos IV have a problem: One of the local species has been eating the crops in the colony’s agricultural research facility. In this simulation, your task is to study the behavior of that animal in its natural habitat, and to try to create a model of the foraging patterns in order to understand why the animal comes to the colony to feed.

Optimal Foraging Theory

Your first task is to define the trophic strategy of the alien forager, and then to builda theoretical model around the foraging pattern using nutritional data and the Optimal Foraging Theory. You will go on a field trip to follow a specimen in the wild, thus adding field data to your predictions and updating the model accordingly. Finally, you will have to incorporate the notion of risk-sensitivity to create a complete foraging model of this entirely new and fictional species.

Save the crops!

Using your newfound knowledge, will you be able to find a solution to stop the forager fromfeeding on the crops in the colony?

Get Started Now

Join the human colony on the fictional exoplanet Astakos IV to study the local alien species. What do they eat?hy and where do they forage for food? Can you build a model using our foraging theories from Earth?

Techniques in Lab

  • Optimal Foraging Theory
  • Foraging currency

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to…

  • Understand the concepts of optimal foraging theory, foraging currency and daily budget
  • Predict a foraging model using a model of energy gain given a tradeoff between energy and nutrients.
  • Correct the model with field studies identifying additional environmental factors
  • Compare the behavior of risk-prone individuals in a stress situation versus controls (risk-sensitivity)

Simulation Features

Length – 30 minutes
Languages – English

Examples of Related Standards


Life Science and Ecology related 1st year onwards

Screenshots of Foraging: Build a foraging theory to save the crops Virtual Lab Simulation


Dr. Michael Angilletta

School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University

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