Abstract

Many lifeforms are found in patches that other lifeforms forage for and consume. Here we explore how the patchiness of the former and cognition of the latter may emerge through mutual interaction in an agent-based model. We use a simple 2D grid world consisting of two types of agents—plants (prey) and animals (predators). Across three experiments, we investigate how cognition of animals influences patchiness of plants and evolves in response to it. Here, cognition is a probabilistic model with two parameters, one for distance of perception and the other for determinacy versus stochasticity of movement. We found that plant patchiness emerged alongside the evolution of animal cognition. In addition, greater distance of perception reduced patchiness, while greater determinacy of movement increased patchiness. Conversely, greater patchiness of plants led animals to evolve perception across greater distances but also led to evolution of less deterministic foraging. Environmental patchiness and foraging cognition thus appeared to mutually create a stable dynamic interaction leading to a self-regulating system.

This content is only available as a PDF.