, Volume 67, Issue 9, pp 1523-1539,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 21 Jun 2013

Ten unanswered questions in multimodal communication

Abstract

The study of multimodal communication has become an active and vibrant field. This special issue of Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology brings together new developments in this rapidly expanding area. In this final contribution to the special issue, I look to the future and discuss ten questions in need of further work, touching on issues ranging from theoretical modeling and the evolution of behavior to molecular mechanisms and the development of behavior. In particular, I emphasize that the use of multimodal communication allows animals to switch between sensory channels when one channel becomes too noisy, and suggest that a better understanding of this process may help us both to understand the evolution of multisensory signaling and to predict the success of species facing environmental changes that affect signaling channels, such as urbanization and climate change. An expanded section is included on the effects of climate change on animal communication across sensory channels, urging researchers to pursue this topic due to the rapidity with which the environment is currently transforming.

Communicated by E. A. Hebets
This manuscript is part of the special issue Multimodal Communication – Guest Editors: James P. Higham and Eileen A. Hebets.