Chapter

Advances in Chemical Signals in Vertebrates

pp 1-14

Signal Specialization and Evolution in Mammals

  • Dietland Müller-SchwarzeAffiliated withCollege of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York

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Abstract

After chemical identification of many active and presumably “inactive” constituents of mammalian signaling secretions, the time is ripe for a formal and comprehensive search for design features of chemical signals. How might the ultimate functions of bluffing, mimicry and honest signaling be coded in chemical signals? For proximate mechanisms, I will consider efficiency of sending behavior, receiving behavior, and the signals themselves in turn. Inspired by earlier studies of auditory and visual signals, known and potential examples of chemosensory redundancy, conspicuousness, small repertoire, typical intensity, and alerting components of chemical signals are discussed. For each of these five aspects, I examine the functional structure of signals at three levels: multisensory displays, multiple scent sources (chemical modality only), and signal compounds in multicomponent secretions.