Thomas J. Valone

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Psychologists, economists, and advertising moguls have long known that human decision-making is strongly influenced by the behavior of others. A rapidly accumulating body of evidence suggests that the same is true in animals. Individuals can use information arising from cues inadvertently produced by the behavior of other individuals with similar(More)
The acquisition and use of socially acquired information is commonly assumed to be profitable. We challenge this assumption by exploring hypothetical scenarios where the use of such information either provides no benefit or can actually be costly. First, we show that the level of incompatibility between the acquisition of personal and socially acquired(More)
We propose that the use of public information about the quality of environmental resources, obtained by monitoring the sampling behaviour of others, may be a widespread social phenomenon allowing individuals to make faster, more accurate assessments of their environment. To demonstrate this (i) we define public information and distinguish it from other(More)
Natural ecosystems contain many individuals and species interacting with each other and with their abiotic environment. Such systems can be expected to exhibit complex dynamics in which small perturbations can be amplified to cause large changes. Here, we document the reorganization of an arid ecosystem that has occurred since the late 1970s. The density of(More)
Public information (PI), a form of indirect social information, is used by individuals to estimate the quality of environmental parameters. It can be acquired in two ways. One way is by noting the performance of others. The other way it can be acquired is by noting the behavioral decisions of other individuals. Performance-based PI has been observed most(More)
Analyses of long-term experimental data from the Chihuahuan desert revealed that species diversity of other rodents was higher on plots from which kangaroo rats (Dipodomys spp.) had been removed. The difference was due to consistently higher colonization and lower extinction probabilities of small granivorous rodents in the absence of competitively dominant(More)
Theoretical discussions concerning how animals might best sample and select mates have suggested that individuals could base decisions either on a sample of mates (sampled-based decisions) or on a threshold of comparison (threshold-based decisions). Recent theoretical work demonstrates that threshold-based mating decisions generate higher expected fitness(More)
Empirical work in arid shrubland systems has documented a distinct spatial pattern of soil nutrient distribution, with higher concentrations of nutrients under shrub canopies compared to bare ground interspaces between shrubs. This “fertile island” pattern is considered characteristic of arid ecosystems. However, recent work at a desertified shrubland site(More)
Some exotic plants are able to invade habitats and attain higher fitness than native species, even when the native species are closely related. One explanation for successful plant invasion is that exotic invasive plant species receive less herbivory or other enemy damage than native species, and this allows them to achieve rapid population growth. Despite(More)
We develop a theory of competition based on two mechanisms that we call the cost of rarity (Mechanism R) and the cost of commonness (Mechanism C). These reduce the rate of population increase only at high densities (asexual organisms) or both at high and low densities (sexual species). The theory predicts that, in certain circumstances, the number of(More)