Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 9, pp 1417-1423

First online:

Game theory, multi-modal signalling and the evolution of communication

  • Graeme D. RuxtonAffiliated withSchool of Biology, University of St Andrews Email author 
  • , H. Martin SchaeferAffiliated withDepartment of Evolutionary Biology and Animal Ecology, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg

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We discuss how the theoretical framework related to selection pressures on multi-component and multi-modal signalling introduced by the article of Wilson et al. in this special issue could usefully be built both theoretically and empirically. Theoretically, we suggest that the game theory approach of Wilson et al. could be generalised using the methodology of adaptive dynamics in order to indicate evolutionary trajectories and paths of evolution. This might indicate the relative likelihood of finding different equilibriums empirically in situations where the game theory explorations of Wilson et al. suggest that multiple equilibriums may exist for a given system. We also suggest how the work of Wilson et al. could be extended theoretically and empirically to further capture the effects of receiver psychology on selective pressures on multi-component and multi-modal signals. We also highlight the assumptions and predictions of the existing theory that would most benefit from and would be most amenable to empirical testing.


Signals Cost of signalling Signal honesty Signal reliability