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Models of kleptoparasitism on networks: the effect of population structure on food stealing behaviour

Hadjichrysanthou, C., Broom, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1698-5495 & Rychtar, J. (2018). Models of kleptoparasitism on networks: the effect of population structure on food stealing behaviour. Journal of Mathematical Biology, 76(6), pp. 1465-1488. doi: 10.1007/s00285-017-1177-7


The behaviour of populations consisting of animals that interact with each other for their survival and reproduction is usually investigated assuming homogeneity amongst the animals. However, real populations are non-homogeneous. We focus on an established model of kleptoparasitism and investigate whether and how much population heterogeneities can affect the behaviour of kleptoparasitic populations. We consider a situation where animals can either discover food items by themselves or attempt to steal the food already discovered by other animals through aggressive interactions. Representing the likely interactions between animals by a network, we develop pairwise and individual-based models to describe heterogeneities in both the population structure and other individual characteristics, including searching and fighting abilities. For each of the models developed we derive analytic solutions at the steady state. The high accuracy of the solutions is shown in various examples of populations with different degrees of heterogeneity. We observe that highly heterogeneous structures can significantly affect the food intake rate and therefore the fitness of animals. In particular, the more highly connected animals engage in more conflicts, and have a reduced food consumption rate compared to poorly connected animals. Further, for equivalent average level of connectedness, the average consumption rate of a population with heterogeneous structure can be higher

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher Keywords: Kleptoparasitism, Food stealing, Structured populations, Networks, Individual-based models, Pairwise models
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
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