Do animals influence landscapes or vice versa?

(20-05-2022) Johannes Nauta's PhD examines how animals' search behavior for food and shelter and the way landscapes are composed affect each other.

The search behavior of animals for food and shelter is also called foraging. In his research, Johannes is trying to figure out how foraging behavior and landscapes affect each other.

"I did this by creating computational models for both individual foragers and entire populations," Johannes explains.

"For individual foragers, I explored how their memory might help them optimize foraging behavior. It is shown that memory is not necessarily beneficial, but that the benefits depend strongly on what exactly the animal is looking for."

"Furthermore, I investigated how interactions between different foragers can influence the search behavior of individuals. In a competitive system, it was found that cooperation is only useful if resources are highly clustered and competition between conspecifics is not too high"

"In contrast, in a collective system, altruistic behavior is shown to benefit the collective only if conspecifics can be easily found"

"Finally, I investigated how foraging behavior can change landscapes. The results presented in this thesis show that foraging behavior affects ecosystems and landscapes," Johannes concludes.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD


PhD Title: The Interplay between Resource Distributions and Optimal Foraging Behavior: From Individuals to Populations


Contact: Johannes Nauta, Yara Khaluf, Pieter Simoens

Johannes Nauta

Johannes Nauta was born in 1994 in Lelystad, the Netherlands. He completed both his bachelors and his master degree on Physics and Astronomy at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

In 2017, he started his PhD trajectory at IDLab at Ghent University and imec, on the topic of Long-Term Robot Autonomy in the Internet of Robotic Things. Since then, his research has shifted towards the field of ecological modeling, where his PhD research focuses on the interplay between landscape configurations and foraging behavior in both individuals and entire populations.

He is the main author of four journal publications and three full papers at international conference. Furthermore, he has co-authored three additional conference contributions.


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke