Communication can be defined in a number of ways; some are problematical because they invoke unprovable concepts such as the “intent” to communicate. E. O. Wilson (1975) avoided such problems by defining communication as “an action of one organism (or cell) that alters the probability pattern of behavior of another organism (or cell) in a fashion that is adaptive to either one or both participants.” In this wide definition, communication requires both a sender and a receiver, a response by the receiver, and adaptive value for either or both parties. For example, a scream of pain when you are hurt can be considered communication if you are overheard and there is a response with adaptive value (1) to you, if a stranger comes to your aid, (2) to the other person, if he or she uses the opportunity to rob you, or (3) to both of you, if your son comes to help, minimizing his chances of losing the parent who pays his tuition. So Wilson’s definition includes signals that allow predators to detect prey and prey to detect predators, and also includes deceit both between and, more rarely, within species (see below). In its narrower sense, communicatory behavior is more commonly understood to occur between conspecifics and to have adaptive advantages for both participants.
KeywordsAlarm Call Receiver Mechanism Sensory Channel Leopard Frog Main Olfactory Bulb
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