Preference and profitability: theory and experiment.

D. W. Stephens, J. F. Lynch, A. E. Sorensen, C. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Attempts to integrate the related problems of patch choice and prey choice within patches. Two models of prey choice within patches are discussed. One based on momentary rate maximizing (the take-the-most-profitable rule) has been presented previously. An alternative long-term rate-maximizing rule, the discrete-marginal-value theorem, is developed. An experimental test of these alternatives is presented using honeybee flower-choice behavior. Empirical results strongly favor the discrete-marginal-value theorem. The relative values of flowers affect honeybee flower choice as both models predict, but the overall richness of the habitat also affects flower choice as the discrete-marginal-value theorem predicts. Experimental results are consistent with data on the 'problem of self-control' in animal psychology. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-553
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986


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