Advertisement

Why Complex Signals Matter, Sometimes

  • Tricia L. RubiEmail author
  • David W. Stephens
Chapter
Part of the Animal Signals and Communication book series (ANISIGCOM, volume 5)

Abstract

Animal signals commonly consist of multiple components—say a sound and a display—and students of signaling have offered many perceptual and cognitive explanations for why compound signals should be more effective. Yet, the economic benefits that receivers obtain by following multiple signal components remain unclear. Superficially, it would seem that a single discriminable difference should be sufficient to discriminate between underlying states, such as high-quality versus low-quality mates. This chapter asks when receivers can benefit by responding to combinations of signals. While there are many situations in which it is best to follow the single most reliable signal and ignore others, our model suggests that it can pay to follow signal combinations when these combinations indicate the occurrence of a rare event. This chapter develops the logic of this confirmation of rare events hypothesis of multiple signal use and discusses the implications of this idea for future studies of signaling.

Keywords

Expected Payoff Environmental Uncertainty Identity Signal Cognitive Benefit Signal Combination 
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.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Tim Polnaszek and Virginia Heinen for helpful discussions on the model and the editors and an anonymous reviewer for comments on the manuscript.

References

  1. Aronsson M, Gamberale-Stille G (2008) Domestic chicks primarily attend to colour, not pattern, when learning an aposematic coloration. Anim Behav 75:417–423. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.05.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beecher MD (1989) Signalling systems for individual recognition: an information theory approach. Anim Behav 38:248–261. doi: 10.1016/S0003-3472(89)80087-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bro-Jørgensen J (2010) Dynamics of multiple signalling systems: animal communication in a world in flux. Trends Ecol Evol 25:292–300. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2009.11.003 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Brower LP, Calvert WH (1985) Foraging dynamics of bird predators on overwintering monarch butterflies in Mexico. Evolution 39:852–868CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Candolin U (2003) The use of multiple cues in mate choice. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 78:575–595CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. de Caprona MC, Ryan M (1990) Conspecific mate recognition in swordtails, Xiphophorus nigrensis and X. pygmaeus (Poeciliidae): olfactory and visual cues. Anim Behav 39:290–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clark C, Dukas R (2003) The behavioral ecology of a cognitive constraint: limited attention. Behav Ecol 14:151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark JA, Boersma PD, Olmsted DM (2006) Name that tune: call discrimination and individual recognition in Magellanic penguins. Anim Behav 72:1141–1148. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2006.04.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dale J, Lank D, Reeve H (2001) Signaling individual identity versus quality: a model and case studies with ruffs, queleas, and house finches. Am Nat 158:75–86CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Deag J, Scott G (1999) “Conventional” signals in avian agonistic displays: integrating theory, data and different levels of analysis. J Theor Biol 196:155–162. doi: 10.1006/jtbi.1998.0825 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. delBarco-Trillo J, Sacha CR, Dubay GR, Drea CM (2012) Eulemur, me lemur: the evolution of scent-signal complexity in a primate clade. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 367:1909–1922. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0225 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dukas R, Kamil AC (2000) The cost of limited attention in blue jays. Behav Ecol 11:502–506. doi: 10.1093/beheco/11.5.502 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dukas R, Kamil AC (2001) Limited attention: the constraint underlying search image. Behav Ecol 12:192–199. doi: 10.1093/beheco/12.2.192 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dunlap AS, Stephens DW (2014) Experimental evolution of prepared learning. Proc Natl Acad Sci 111:11750–11755. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404176111 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Dunlap AS, Stephens DW (2009) Components of change in the evolution of learning and unlearned preference. Proc Biol Sci 276:3201–3208. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0602 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Grether GF, Kolluru GR, Nersissian K (2004) Individual colour patches as multicomponent signals. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 79:583–610CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hebets EA, Papaj DR (2005) Complex signal function: developing a framework of testable hypotheses. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 57:197–214. doi: 10.1007/s00265-004-0865-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnstone RA (1995) Honest advertisement of multiple qualities using multiple signals. J Theor Biol 177:87–94. doi: 10.1016/S0022-5193(05)80006-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnstone RA (1997) Recognition and the evolution of distinctive signatures: when does it pay to reveal identity? Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 264:1547–1553. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1997.0215 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kazemi B, Gamberale-Stille G, Tullberg BS, Leimar O (2014) Stimulus salience as an explanation for imperfect mimicry. Curr Biol 24:965–969. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.02.061 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kim S-Y, Noguera JC, Morales J, Velando A (2011) The evolution of multicomponent begging display in gull chicks: sibling competition and genetic variability. Anim Behav 82:113–118. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.04.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kondo N, Izawa E-I, Watanabe S (2012) Crows cross-modally recognize group members but not non-group members. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 279:1937–1942. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2419 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Leonard M, Horn A, Parks E (2003) The role of posturing and calling in the begging display of nestling birds. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 54:188–193. doi: 10.1007/s00265-003-0626-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mackintosh NJ (1975) A theory of attention: Variations in the associability of stimuli with reinforcement. Psychol Rev 82:276–298. doi: 10.1037/h0076778 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Massaro DW, Cohen MM (1990) Perception of synthesized audible and visible speech. Psychol Sci 1:55–63. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.1990.tb00068.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McLinn CM, Stephens DW (2006) What makes information valuable: signal reliability and environmental uncertainty. Anim Behav 71:1119–1129. doi: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2005.09.006 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McLinn CM, Stephens DW (2010) An experimental analysis of receiver economics: cost, reliability and uncertainty interact to determine a signal’s value. Oikos 119:254–263. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.17756.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Page RB, Jaeger RG (2004) Multimodal signals, imperfect information, and identification of sex in red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus). Behav Ecol Sociobiol 56:132–139. doi: 10.1007/s00265-004-0774-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Palmer J, Verghese P, Pavel M (2000) The psychophysics of visual search. Vision Res 40:1227–1268CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Partan SR, Marler P (1999) Communication goes multimodal. Science 283(5406):1272–1273CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Pearson DL (1989) What is the adaptive significance of multicomponent defensive repertoires? Oikos 54:251–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pollard KA, Blumstein DT (2011) Social group size predicts the evolution of individuality. Curr Biol 21:413–417. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.051 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Pollard KA, Blumstein DT (2012) Evolving communicative complexity: insights from rodents and beyond. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 367:1869–1878. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0221 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Proops L, McComb K, Reby D (2008) Cross-modal individual recognition in domestic horses (Equus caballus). Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:1–5Google Scholar
  35. Rescorla RA, Wagner ARA (1972) A theory of Pavlovian conditioning: variations in the effectiveness of reinforcement and nonreinforcement. In: Black AH, Prokasy WF (eds) Classical conditioning II: current research and theory. Appleton Century Crofts, New York, NY, pp. 64–99Google Scholar
  36. Rowe C (1999) Receiver psychology and the evolution of multicomponent signals. Anim Behav 58:921–931. doi: 10.1006/anbe.1999.1242 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Rowe C, Halpin C (2013) Why are warning displays multimodal? Behav Ecol Sociobiol 67:1425–1439. doi: 10.1007/s00265-013-1515-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rowe C, Skelhorn J (2004) Avian psychology and communication. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 271:1435–1442. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2004.2753 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rubi TL, Stephens DW (2016) Should receivers follow multiple signal components? An economic perspective. Behav Ecol 27:6–44. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arv121 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schluter D, Price T (1993) Honesty, perception and population divergence in sexually selected traits. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 253:117–122. doi: 10.1098/rspb.1993.0089 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Siddall EC, Marples NM (2011) Hear no evil: The effect of auditory warning signals on avian innate avoidance, learned avoidance and memory. Curr Zool 57:197–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Skelhorn J, Rowe C (2007) Predators’ toxin burdens influence their strategic decisions to eat toxic prey. Curr Biol 17:1479–1483. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2007.07.064 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Steiger S, Franz R, Eggert A-K, Müller JK (2008) The Coolidge effect, individual recognition and selection for distinctive cuticular signatures in a burying beetle. Proc Biol Sci 275:1831–1838. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0375 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Tibbetts EA (2004) Complex social behaviour can select for variability in visual features: a case study in Polistes wasps. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 271:1955–1960CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tibbetts EA (2002) Visual signals of individual identity in the wasp Polistes fuscatus. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci 269:1423–1428. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2031 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tibbetts EA, Dale J (2007) Individual recognition: it is good to be different. Trends Ecol Evol 22:529–537. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2007.09.001 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Treisman AM, Gelade G (1980) A feature-integration theory of attention. Cogn Psychol 12:97–136. doi: 10.1016/0010-0285(80)90005-5 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Wiley RH (2015) Noise matters: the evolution of communication. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wilson AJ, Dean M, Higham JP (2013) A game theoretic approach to multimodal communication. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 67:1399–1415. doi: 10.1007/s00265-013-1589-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Yorzinski JL, Patricelli GL, Babcock JS et al (2013) Through their eyes: selective attention in peahens during courtship. J Exp Biol 216:3035–3046. doi: 10.1242/jeb.087338 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and BehaviorUniversity of Minnesota, Twin CitiesSt. PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations