Consumers must track and acquire resources in complex landscapes. Much discussion has focused on the concept of a ‘resource gradient’ and the mechanisms by which consumers can take advantage of such gradients as they navigate their landscapes in search of resources. However, the concept of tracking resource gradients means different things in different contexts. Here we take a synthetic approach and consider six different definitions of what it means to search for resources based on density or gradients in density. These include scenarios where consumers change their movement behavior based on the density of conspecifics, on the density of resources, and on spatial or temporal gradients in resources. We also consider scenarios involving non-local perception and a form of memory. Using a continuous space, continuous time model that allows consumers to switch between resource-tracking and random motion, we investigate the relative performance of these six different strategies. Consumers’ success in matching the spatiotemporal distributions of their resources differs starkly across the six scenarios. Movement strategies based on perception and response to temporal (rather than spatial) resource gradients afforded consumers with the best opportunities to match resource distributions. All scenarios would allow for optimization of resource matching in terms of the underlying parameters, providing opportunities for evolutionary adaptation, and links back to classical studies of foraging ecology.