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We develop a simple individual-based model to gain an understanding of the drivers of aggregation behaviour in nomadic foragers. The model incorporates two key elements influencing nomadic foragers in variable environments: uncertainty regarding the location of food sources and variability in the spatio-temporal distribution of ephemeral food sources. A genetic algorithm is used to evolve parameters describing an individual's movement and aggregation strategy. We apply the aggregation model to a case study of the Bornean bearded pig (Sus barbatus). Bearded pigs are ideal for considering the foraging advantages of aggregation, because they are highly mobile and exhibit a variety of aggregation strategies, ranging from solitary and sedentary to mass aggregation and wide ranging migration. Our model demonstrates the "many-wrongs principle", and shows that environmental variability, uncertainty in the location of food sources, and local population density drive aggregation behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of theoretical biology

Publication Date





302 - 310


Imperial College London, Division of Biology, Manor House, Silwood Park Campus, Imperial College London, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK.


Animals, Swine, Feeding Behavior, Social Behavior, Cooperative Behavior, Spatial Behavior, Models, Biological, Models, Psychological