The Evolution of Animal Communication: Reliability and Deception in Signaling Systems

The Evolution of Animal Communication: Reliability and Deception in Signaling Systems

by William A. Searcy, Stephen Nowicki
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691070954

ISBN-13: 9780691070957

Pub. Date: 08/15/2005

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Gull chicks beg for food from their parents. Peacocks spread their tails to attract potential mates. Meerkats alert family members of the approach of predators. But are these--and other animals--sometimes dishonest? That's what William Searcy and Stephen Nowicki ask in The Evolution of Animal Communication. They take on the fascinating yet perplexing

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Overview

Gull chicks beg for food from their parents. Peacocks spread their tails to attract potential mates. Meerkats alert family members of the approach of predators. But are these--and other animals--sometimes dishonest? That's what William Searcy and Stephen Nowicki ask in The Evolution of Animal Communication. They take on the fascinating yet perplexing question of the dependability of animal signaling systems.

The book probes such phenomena as the begging of nesting birds, alarm calls in squirrels and primates, carotenoid coloration in fish and birds, the calls of frogs and toads, and weapon displays in crustaceans. Do these signals convey accurate information about the signaler, its future behavior, or its environment? Or do they mislead receivers in a way that benefits the signaler? For example, is the begging chick really hungry as its cries indicate or is it lobbying to get more food than its brothers and sisters?

Searcy and Nowicki take on these and other questions by developing clear definitions of key issues, by reviewing the most relevant empirical data and game theory models available, and by asking how well theory matches data. They find that animal communication is largely reliable--but that this basic reliability also allows the clever deceiver to flourish. Well researched and clearly written, their book provides new insight into animal communication, behavior, and evolution.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691070957
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/15/2005
Series:
Monographs in Behavior and Ecology Series
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.18(h) x 0.74(d)

Table of Contents


Figures, Boxes, and Table ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Definitions 2

Some History 6

Categories of Signal Costs 13

Alternative Explanations for Reliability 16

Deception Redux 17

Evolutionary Interests of Signalers and Receivers 20

Chapter 2: Signaling When Interests Overlap 24

Signaling Between Relatives: Theory 24

Begging 36

Alarms 53

Food Calls 68

Individually Directed Skepticism 73

Conclusions 77

Chapter 3: Signaling When Interests Diverge 78

Mating Signals: Theory 78

Carotenoid Pigmentation 86

Songs in Oscine Birds 97

Tail Length in Birds 123

Conclusions 131

Chapter 4: Signaling When Interests Oppose 134

Signaling in Aggressive Contexts: Theory 134

Postural Displays of Aggression in Birds 141

Badges of Status 147

Weapon Displays in Crustaceans 160

Dominant Frequency in Calls of Frogs and Toads 169

Conclusions 178

Chapter 5: Honesty and Deception in Communication Networks 181

Third-Party Receivers 182

"Eavesdropping" versus "Interception" 183

Eavesdropping in Signaling Interactions 185

Third-Party Receivers and Reliability 203

Conclusions 206

Chapter 6: Conclusions 207

Reliability 208

Alternatives to the Handicap Mechanism 214

Deceit 218

The Balance of Reliability and Deceit 223

References 225

Author Index 257

Subject Index 263

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