Prey should hide more randomly when a predator attacks more persistently

Shmuel Gal, Steve Alpern, Jerome Casas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When being searched for and then (if found) pursued by a predator, a prey animal has a choice between choosing very randomly among hiding locations so as to be hard to find or alternatively choosing a location from which it is more likely to successfully flee if found. That is, the prey can choose to be hard to find or hard to catch, if found. In our model, capture of prey requires both finding it and successfully pursuing it.We model this dilemma as a zerosum repeated game between predator and prey, with the eventual capture probability as the pay-off to the predator. We find that the more random hiding strategy is better when the chances of repeated pursuit, which are known to be related to area topography, are high. Our results extend earlier results of Gal and Casas, where there was at most only a single pursuit. In that model, hiding randomly was preferred by the prey when the predator has only a few looks. Thus, our new multistage model shows that the effect of more potential looks is opposite. Our results can be viewed as a generalization of search games to the repeated game context and are in accordance with observed escape behaviour of different animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20150861
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number113
StatePublished - 6 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • Behavioural ecology
  • Escape
  • Game theory
  • Repeated games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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