A lionfish-inspired predation strategy in planar structured environments

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Anthony A Thompson et al 2023 Bioinspir. Biomim. 18 046022


This paper investigates a pursuit-evasion game with a single pursuer and evader in a bounded environment, inspired by observations of predation attempts by lionfish (Pterois sp.). The pursuer tracks the evader with a pure pursuit strategy while using an additional bioinspired tactic to trap the evader, i.e. minimize the evader’s escape routes. Specifically, the pursuer employs symmetric appendages inspired by the large pectoral fins of lionfish, but this expansion increases its drag and therefore its work to capture the evader. The evader employs a bioinspired randomly-directed escape strategy to avoid capture and collisions with the boundary. Here we investigate the trade-off between minimizing the work to capture the evader and minimizing the evader’s escape routes. By using the pursuer’s expected work to capture as a cost function, we determine when the pursuer should expand its appendages as a function of the relative distance to the evader and the evader’s proximity to the boundary. Visualizing the pursuer’s expected work to capture everywhere in the bounded domain, yields additional insights about optimal pursuit trajectories and illustrates the role of the boundary in predator-prey interactions.