The Evolution of Search Modes: Ecological versus Phylogenetic Perspectives

  title={The Evolution of Search Modes: Ecological versus Phylogenetic Perspectives},
  author={Gad Perry},
  journal={The American Naturalist},
  pages={98 - 109}
  • G. Perry
  • Published 1 January 1999
  • Biology, Psychology
  • The American Naturalist
Both theoretical and empirical studies, many of them on lizards, suggest that foraging behaviors often take one of two forms, sometimes called “modes”: active search or sedentary ambush. I tested this by expanding the database on lizard foraging behaviors and testing for the existence of modality in this much larger database. My findings did not support the validity of some previous analyses. Greatly expanded lizard data did not show a bimodal distribution of foraging behaviors. Phylogeny… 

The foraging mode controversy: both continuous variation and clustering of foraging movements occur

Bivariate cluster analysis supports the view that lizards fall into active and ambush modes that may reflect adaptive peaks of joint MPM and PTM values, and controversies about continuity, bimodality, and dichotomy of modes are resolved.

The correlated evolution of foraging mode and reproductive effort in lizards

The first partial evidence that widely foraging species have evolved greater reproductive effort than have sit-and-wait species is presented, which is attributed to a larger body size and greater mortality among mobile foragers.

Lizard Ecology: The Evolutionary Consequences of Foraging Mode

The reviews presented here reveal the continuous nature of foraging strategies in lizards and snakes, providing the general reader with an up-to-date review of the field, and will equip researchers with new insights and future directions for the sit-and-wait vs. wide foraging paradigm.

Foraging modes as suites of coadapted movement traits

All single movement variables are lognormally distributed, indicating that bimodality of single variables is not required for the existence of distinct foraging modes and the two-mode paradigm remains appealing due to its broad explanatory power and simplicity.

Historical introduction: On widely foraging for Kalahari lizards

This book shows that the field of foraging biology of reptiles is alive and well, as this field has been interested in this field for four decades, and the history of the thinking about foraging modes is described.

Does foraging mode mould morphology in lacertid lizards?

The results challenge the idea that foraging style is evolutionarily conservative and invariably associated with particular morphologies, and it appears that the flexibility of foraging mode and its morphological correlates varies among lizard taxa.

Foraging mode, relative prey size and diet breadth: A phylogenetically explicit analysis of snake feeding ecology.

It is argued that ambush foragers evolved to be more opportunistic predators because they encounter prey less frequently compared to active foragers, and this hypothesis is further supported by the fact that ambush Foragers also exhibited marginally wider diet breadths, consuming a broader range of prey types in comparison with active forager.

Early transition in foraging mode promoted greater reproductive effort in widely foraging lizards

Evidence is presented that widely foraging species have evolved greater reproductive effort than sit-and wait species and a theoretical model derived from the optimal foraging theory is proposed that potentially explains the observed patterns in lizards, paving the way for ecologist to test mechanistic hypotheses at the intraspecific level.



Search Modes of Birds and Lizards: Evidence for Alternative Movement Patterns

It is demonstrated that move frequency is a good descriptor of search mode and the degree to which physiology and morphology limit a predator's ability to switch modes can be examined by comparing intraspecific move-frequency distributions against the interspecific distributions provided here.

Ecological Consequences of Foraging Mode

Foraging mode within one species varies with changes in food availability, and any general model of foraging velocity must be complex because foraging mode constrains numerous important aspects of ecology.

The Influence of Habitat Structure On a Nolis Foraging Behavior

It is suggested that optimal choice of patch types (structural microhabitats) is influenced by the locomotion costs associated with hunting in each patch type, and selection should act to enhance adaptation for site-specific foraging which will reinforce the predictions of the niche compression hypothesis.


It is concluded that measures of uncertainty are useful and should always be provided, despite simplistic assumptions about the probabilistic models that underlie them, and if uncertainty is too high, reconstruction should be abandoned.

Concordant evolution of locomotor behaviour, display rate and morphology in Anolis lizards

  • J. Losos
  • Biology, Environmental Science
    Animal Behaviour
  • 1990

Do Ecological Analogues Assemble their Common Features in the Same Order? An Investigation of Regularities in Evolution, Using Sand-Dwelling Lizards as Examples

A method is described for comparing the sequences in which ecological analogues assemble their common traits, including ways of handling incomplete data and of testing the statistical significance of the results.

Search tactics of desert lizards: how polarized are they?

Why do morphological phylogenies vary in quality ? An investigation based on the comparative history of lizard clades

  • E. N. Arnold
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. B. Biological Sciences
  • 1990
Examination of the robust and explicit phylogeny of the semaphore geckoes (Pristurus) suggests that its quality does stem from a variety of environmental factors, and it seems that the quality of morphological phylogenies may give some indication of the kinds of history groups have had.


The separation of phylogenetic from specific effects proposed here also allows phylogenetic factors to be explicitly included in cross‐species comparative analyses of adaptation, which solves a long‐standing problem in evolutionary comparative studies.