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Optimality Models in Biology

Title : Optimality Models in Biology
Speaker : T. R. Rao , Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali
Date : 26/02/2016, Seminar Hall, First Floor.


Many questions we ask in Biology, particularly in areas of Ecology, Ethology and Evolution, can be addressed within the framework of optimization. How long should an animal live? What prey size should a predator choose to hunt? How thick should the fur of a polar bear be? How long should the stomata in the leaf remain open? It is assumed that organisms have evolved optimal solutions to such questions to maximize their Darwinian fitness. Most optimality models, using energy and time as currency, apply cost-benefit analysis to find a theoretical solution to the question posed and try to

come up with testable predictions. In my talk I focus on optimal foraging and address a few questions posed by a foraging predator- Which patch to choose for foraging? How long to stay at a patch? What prey size to select? How many different prey items to include in the diet? I will describe some experiments done to test predictions arising out of the models and also certain constraints on optimal foraging.