Aggressive signaling meets adaptive receiving: Further experiments in synthetic behavioural ecology

  • Peter de Bourcier
  • Michael Wheeler
6. Societies and Collective Behavior
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 929)


This paper describes our most recent investigations into aggressive communication. We perform experiments in a simple synthetic ecology, in which simulated animals (animats) are in competition over food. In the first experiment, each animat has an evolved signaling strategy — the degree to which that animat ‘bluffs’ about its aggression level. The form of artificial evolution used features no explicit fitness function. By varying the cost of signaling, we show that the general logic of the handicap principle (according to which high costs enforce reliability) can apply in the sort of ecological context not easily studied using formal models. However, because an animal's behavioural response to an incoming signal will be determined not only by the signal itself, but also by the degree of importance that that animal gives to the signal, we go on to introduce the concurrent evolution of signaling and receiving strategies. We discuss how, in this more complex scenario, the cost of signaling affects the reliability of the signaling system.


aggression animal signaling behavioural ecology communication 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter de Bourcier
    • 1
  • Michael Wheeler
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Cognitive and Computing SciencesUniversity of SussexBrightonUK

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