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Negative density dependent selection on individuals in prey aggregations (negative DDS, the preferential selection by predators of spatially isolated prey) is assumed to contribute in many cases to the evolution and maintenance of aggregation. Both positive and negative DDS on prey groups have been documented in nature but there is no existing framework to predict when each of these forms of natural selection is most likely. By exploiting the tendency of artificial neural networks to exhibit consumer-like emergent behaviours, I isolate at least two environmental factors impinging on the consumer organism that may determine which form of density dependent natural selection is shown: the distribution of prey group size attacked by the predator and the spatial conformation (dispersed or compacted) of the prey group. Numerous forms of DDS on artificial prey (positive, negative, and non-DDS) are displayed through different combinations of these factors. I discuss in detail how the predictions of the model may be tested by empiricists in order to assess the usefulness of the framework presented. I stress the importance of understanding DDS on prey groups given the recent emergence of these systems as test beds for ideas on biological self-organisation. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Author(s): Tosh CR
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Journal of Theoretical Biology
Print publication date: 28/04/2011
ISSN (print): 0022-5193
ISSN (electronic): 1095-8541
Publisher: Academic Press
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