Chapter

Animal Communication

Richard Mcelreath and Robert Boyd

in Mathematical Models of Social Evolution: A Guide for the Perplexed

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780226558264
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226558288 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226558288.003.0005
Animal Communication

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The basic premise of game theory is that social life is like a giant game. If this is true, it is also true that life is less like chess and more like poker. In games like chess, information is entirely public. In games like poker, however, there is private information, and access to this information strongly determines the outcomes of contests. Communication is at least as important to animals as it is to card players. There are many kinds of communication. Information can be shared intentionally or accidentally, be inherently unfakeable or strategic. This chapter examines animal communication and animal signals, focusing on repeat play and cheap signaling, altruism, and social learning. First, it presents models in which intentional communication, signals, can affect the outcomes of a game. Second, it considers examples of models in which costly signaling theory is put to the test. Third, it looks at the Sir Philip Sidney game to see how costly signaling theory works. Finally, it considers two-locus genetic models and how to model the evolutionary dynamics of information within a population.

Keywords: animal communication; animal signals; repeat play; cheap signaling; altruism; social learning; costly signaling theory; Sir Philip Sidney game; genetic models; evolutionary dynamics

Chapter.  12504 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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