Noise in Chemical Communication

  • Volker NehringEmail author
  • Tristram D. Wyatt
  • Patrizia d’Ettorre
Part of the Animal Signals and Communication book series (ANISIGCOM, volume 2)


Chemical communication is ubiquitous. It is not only employed in inter-individual communication, but also used to transfer information within individuals, from cell to cell and from one organ to another within a body with a complicated network of hormones and neurotransmitters. However, how noise affects chemical communication has been largely neglected. Here, we review possible sources of noise and the effects noise has on the behaviour of receivers. We will also discuss variation in chemical cues and signals that may provide information in some contexts, but obscure messages in others. Finally, we attempt to identify strategies that senders and receivers can follow to either reduce the occurrence or mitigate the effects of noise.


Sensory Neuron Pheromone Component Antennal Lobe Chemical Communication Cuticular Hydrocarbon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Marc Weissburg for the photograph of the underwater odour plume visualised with dye and Rob Beynon for the Darcin ribbon graphic. We also thank Jan Benda, Henrik Brumm and an anonymous referee for their helpful comments on drafts of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volker Nehring
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tristram D. Wyatt
    • 2
  • Patrizia d’Ettorre
    • 3
  1. 1.University Freiburg, Biology I, Hauptstrasse 1FreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Laboratory of Experimental and Comparative EthologySorbonne Paris CitéFrance

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