A practical guide to avoid giving up on giving-up densities

Miguel Bedoya Perez, Alexandra J R Carthey, Valentina S A Mella, Clare McArthur, Peter B Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The giving-up density (GUD) framework provides a powerful experimental approach with a strong theoretical underpinning to quantify foraging outcomes in heterogeneous landscapes. Since its inception, the GUD approach has been applied successfully to a vast range of foraging species and foraging scenarios. However, its application is not simple, as anyone who has tried to use it for the first time might attest. Limitations of the technique were noted at its conception, yet only the artificiality of the patches, the appropriateness of the food resource, and the possibility of multiple visiting foragers were identified. Here we show the current uses of GUD and outline the practical benefits as well as the often overlooked limitations of the technique. We define seven major points that need to be addressed when applying this methodology: (1) the curvilinearity between harvest rate and energy, (2) the energetic state of the forager, (3) the effect of group foraging, (4) food quality and substrate properties, (5) the predictability of the patch, (6) behavioral traits of the forager, and (7) nontarget species. We also suggest how GUD experiments can be enhanced by incorporating complementary methods (such as cameras) to better understand the foraging processes involved in the GUD itself. We conclude that the benefits of using GUD outweigh the costs, but that its limitations should not be ignored. Incorporating new methods when using GUD can potentially offer novel and important insights into the study of foraging behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1541-1553
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


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