Using optimal foraging theory to infer how groups make collective decisions

Grace H. Davis*, Margaret C. Crofoot, Damien R. Farine

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Studying animal behavior as collective phenomena is a powerful tool for understanding social processes, including group coordination and decision-making. However, linking individual behavior during group decision-making to the preferences underlying those actions poses a considerable challenge. Optimal foraging theory, and specifically the marginal value theorem (MVT), can provide predictions about individual preferences, against which the behavior of groups can be compared under different models of influence. A major strength of formally linking optimal foraging theory to collective behavior is that it generates predictions that can easily be tested under field conditions. This opens the door to studying group decision-making in a range of species; a necessary step for revealing the ecological drivers and evolutionary consequences of collective decision-making.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)942-952
    Number of pages11
    JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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