In ecology, an ideal free distribution is a way in which animals distribute themselves among several patches of resources. The theory states that the number of individual animals that will aggregate in various patches is proportional to the amount of resources available in each. For example, if patch A contains twice as many resources as patch B, there will be twice as many individuals foraging in patch A as in patch B. The ideal free distribution (IFD) theory predicts that the distribution of animals among patches will minimize resource competition and maximize fitness.
The term "ideal" implies that animals are aware of each patch’s quality, and they choose to forage in the patch with the highest quality. The term "free" implies that animals are capable of moving unhindered from one patch to another. Although these assumptions are not always upheld in nature, there are still many experiments that have been performed in support of IFD, even if populations naturally deviate between patches before reaching IFD. IFD theory can still be used to analyze foraging behaviors of animals, whether those behaviors support IFD, or violate it.
Other articles related to "ideal free distribution, distribution, ideal free, ideal, distributions":
... This distribution is found across species of insects, fish and birds ... absolute resource availability on each patch is required to accurately predict the distribution of a foraging population ...
... Animals displaying an ideal free distribution distribute themselves among patches (sources of a resource) in such a way that each individual get the same amount of the resource ... For example, if food is twice as abundant in habitat A compared to habitat B, the ideal free distribution-based model would predict that there will accordingly be twice as many animals ... selection for one or two species in two habitats according to the ideal free and ideal despotic distributions ...
... often expected to behave according to the “ideal free distribution,” which describes a population in which individuals distribute themselves evenly among habitat patches ... When there are patches of varying quality available, the ideal free distribution predicts a pattern of “balanced dispersal” ... An alternative to the ideal free distribution and balanced dispersal models is when fitness can vary among potential breeding sites within habitat patches and individuals must select the best available site ...
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