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The view of animals as optimizers is extremely important in many parts of biology, and is represented in a variety of theoretical models. Current developments in animal welfare create a need for a new theoretical model, which treats the animal as acting optimally in its choice of a sequence of behaviours, and places as few restrictions as possible on what quantity is being maximized. The intention is to facilitate the study of what the animal chooses, which will often be relevant in considering animal welfare. Currently, economic models of the consumer are borrowed in this situation, but they are not well suited for the increasingly exact analyses being performed. A new alternative model is presented here analytically in general, and a special case is studied numerically. The model does not attribute internal states to the individual, which is a simplification with advantages and disadvantages. © 2002 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original publication




Journal article


Animal Behaviour

Publication Date





183 - 191