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The Physics of Foraging: An Introduction to Random Searches and Biological Encounters

By: Gandhimohan M Viswanathan(Author), Marcos GE de Luz(Author), Ernesto P Raposo(Author), H Eugene Stanley(Author)

178 pages, 44 b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Jun 2011 | #204996 | ISBN-13: 9781107006799
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $33/€28 approx

About this book

Do the movements of animals, including humans, follow patterns that can be described quantitatively by simple laws of motion? If so, then why? These questions have attracted the attention of scientists in many disciplines, and stimulated debates ranging from ecological matters to queries such as 'how can there be free will if one follows a law of motion?'

The Physics of Foraging is the first book on this rapidly evolving subject, introducing random searches and foraging in a way that can be understood by readers without a previous background on the subject. It reviews theory as well as experiment, addresses open problems and perspectives, and discusses applications ranging from the colonization of Madagascar by Austronesians to the diffusion of genetically modified crops.

The Physics of Foraging will interest physicists working in the field of anomalous diffusion and movement ecology as well as ecologists already familiar with the concepts and methods of statistical physics.


Part I. Introduction: Movement
1. Empirical motivation for studying movement
2. Statistical physics of biological motion
3. Random walks and Levy flights
4. Wandering albatrosses

Part II. Experimental Findings
5. Early studies
6. Evidence of anomalous diffusion
7. Human dispersal
8. How strong is the evidence?

Part III. Theory of Foraging
9. Optimizing encounter rates
10. Levy flight foraging
11. Other search models

Part IV. Finale: A Broader Context
12. Superdiffusive random searches
13. Adaptational versus emergent superdiffusion
14. Perspectives and open problems


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Gandhimohan M. Viswanathan is Professor of Physics at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte. Previously, he was Associate Professor at the Instituto de Fisica, Universidade Federal de Alagoas, where he spent over a decade investigating the complex phenomenology seen in physical, biological and economic systems.

Marcos G. E. da Luz is an Associate Professor in the Departamento de Fisica, Universidade Federal do Parana. He works with both numerical and analytical methods in disorder, complexity and non-linearity in classical and quantum systems and with theoretical models in ecology.

Ernesto P. Raposo is an Associate Professor in the Laboratorio de Fisica Teorica e Computacional, Departamento de Fisica, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco. His current research interests include statistical physics of random searches and the foraging problem, disordered antiferromagnets, and quantum field theory of quasi-unidimensional magnetic polymer chains.

H. Eugene Stanley is a University Professor and Director of the Center for Polymer Studies, Boston University, Professor of Physics, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering, and Professor of Physiology at Boston University School of Medicine. A pioneer in interdisciplinary science, he has won the Boltzmann Medal and numerous other awards for his contributions.

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