Virtual prey with Lévy motion are preferentially attacked by predatory fish

Christos C Ioannou*, Luis Arrochela Braga Carvalho, Chessy Budleigh, Graeme D Ruxton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Of widespread interest in animal behavior and ecology is how animals search their environment for resources, and whether these search strategies are optimal. However, movement also affects predation risk through effects on encounter rates, the conspicuousness of prey, and the success of attacks. Here, we use predatory fish attacking a simulation of virtual prey to test whether predation risk is associated with movement behavior. Despite often being demonstrated to be a more efficient strategy for finding resources such as food, we find that prey displaying Lévy motion are twice as likely to be targeted by predators than prey utilizing Brownian motion. This can be explained by the predators, at the moment of the attack, preferentially targeting prey that were moving with straighter trajectories rather than prey that were turning more. Our results emphasize that costs of predation risk need to be considered alongside the foraging benefits when comparing different movement strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberarad039
Pages (from-to)695-699
Number of pages5
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number4
Early online date18 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • Brownian motion
  • Lévy flight
  • Lévy walk
  • Gasterosteus aculeatus
  • Search behaviour
  • Three-spined sticklebacks


Dive into the research topics of 'Virtual prey with Lévy motion are preferentially attacked by predatory fish'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this