What is communication?

  • Behavioral interactions between animals involve communication.
  • Communication can take place between members of the same species (conspecifics) or different species (heterospecifics)

Signal Modalities

Animals communicate using signals

Sender – Signal (such as urine trail)- Receiver – change in behavior

  • Both sender and receiver must benefit for the signal to be adaptive
  • There can be eavesdroppers on the signals

Many animals signal in more than one modality

  • A bird singing and flashing its tail feathers

Why do animals communicate?

  • Sexual advertisement and mate attraction
  • Parental care (begging, recognition)
  • Environmental information (Predator alarms, food location)
  • Territory defense, conflict resolution
  • Social integration (contact calls)
  • Predator defense (warning coloration)

Selection Acts on Pre-Existing Traits

  • Female whistling moths detect the ultrasonic signals generated by male moths.

Sensory Exploitation

  • Communication signals originate in actions that activate pre-existing sensory abilities of receivers
  • In some cases, the sensory exploitation only benefits the signaler

ex. African Cichlid Fish

  • Male with bright orange spots on the anal fin
  • A female may try to pick up what appear to be eggs on the fin

The “Panda Principle”

Why Resolve Conflicts with Harmless Threat Displays Instead of Fighting?

  • Saves energy
  • More likely to die or get injured in a fight