Chapter

The extended phenotype within the colony and how it obscures social communication

David P Hughes

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/9780199216840.003.0010
 The extended phenotype within the colony and how it obscures social communication

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Societies of social insects are paragons of communication. Multiple channels exist between different members and the transmitted information ranges from specifying the location of foraging areas to who controls reproduction. Whole colonies can also communicate with other colonies or even vertebrates. But what if the individuals within a society are not, in a word, themselves? This chapter explores how adaptive manipulation of host behaviour by parasites, i.e., the extended phenotype of parasites obscures social communication, and it asks how it influences other members of the society. Since manipulated kin are at best cheaters and at worst potential infective agents can the society recognise them? Knowing how a highly complicated example of social communication is broken or subverted by parasites can provide considerable insight into the evolution of communication. The chapter discusses conflict and communication in this system in the context of the debate over the nature of the organism.

Keywords: selfish gene; social insects; conflict; behavioural manipulation; parasites; superorganism; organism

Chapter.  13332 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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