Chapter

Chemical communication and the coordination of social interactions in insects

Patrizia d'Ettorre and Allen J Moore

in Sociobiology of Communication

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199216840
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191712043 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216840.003.0005
 Chemical communication and the coordination of social interactions in insects

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Effective communication, often involving pheromones, is a fundamental component of social life. Communication requires interactions to be expressed and it is convenient to consider communication within the context of the theory of interacting phenotypes — those phenotypes that have reduced or no meaning outside of a social context. Pheromonal communication will therefore be subject to social selection and indirect genetic effects and is often highly sophisticated and multifaceted, allowing fine-tuned coordination of messages from senders and receivers. Pheromones can be characterized by nested levels of variation: a multi-component structure in which individual components contain additional source of variation. An integrated understanding of communication by multi-component chemical signals provides insight into the evolution of social signals in general. Insects are ideal model systems to investigate and disentangle the complexity of pheromones and reveal the underestimated potential for reliability that appears to be hidden in chemical signals and their evolutionary stability.

Keywords: pheromone; social selection; interacting phenotypes; multi-component signals; chemical communication; ants

Chapter.  9213 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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