The evolution of animal communication

Marc Naguib, J. Jordan Price
2013 Behaviour  
Communication is a central part of social behaviour, often directly affecting an individual's fitness. As such, the study of animal communication has become a central focus of animal behaviour researchers. It is a field that integrates a broad and diverse range of biological disciplines, from neurobiology and biomechanics to evolution and psychology, and over the years it has attracted a broad range of researchers as well. The contributors to this Special Issue of Behaviour on the evolution of
more » ... nimal communication exemplify this breadth and diversity of interests. Animals produce signals for a variety of reasons, including advertisement and conflict resolution, and in turn they must make decisions based on the information they gather from the signals of others. Indeed, it is their role as respondents which puts selection pressures on signallers and their signals. Communication requires an individual producing a signal, a transmission channel (the environment), and individuals receiving the signal and extracting information from it. Any such process of information transfer is bound to involve errors, due to signal degradation, external noise, or receiver perception and decision rules. Thus, the broadcast information inevitably differs from the information a receiver uses for decision making. Animals can never acquire perfect information about their environment, and this uncertainty also applies to communication. There is no communication without errors. Or, to say it in the words of Haven Wiley, "communication is optimal but not ideal".
doi:10.1163/1568539x-00003098 fatcat:7fddr4utvrhgvds3ehpcf6lgqa