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Flashcards in Animal Behaviour- Communication Deck (33)
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What is communication?

Signal that leads to altering behaviour of receiver


What is the difference between a cue and a signal?

A cue has not evolved to alter or influence behaviour but may do anyway (or guide another individuals behaviour)

Many signals may have evolved from cues through natural selection (through ritualisation)


What different modes of signalling are there?

Acoustic- e.g songbirds-pattern of noise, tone, volume
Chemical- e.g pheromones- moths
Visual- e.g markings and colours- peacock spider colour, pattern and motion
Tactile- e.g big cats
Seismic- e.g transmitting vibrations-spider webs and electrical fish


What sort of factors/pros and cons may different modes of communication have?

Range (e.g auditory very good, tactile poor)
Speed (e.g tactile very good, chemical poor)
Obstacle avoidance (e.g chemical very good, visual poor)
Locatability (e.g visual very good, auditory good/poor)
Persistence (e.g visual poor, chemical very good)
Susceptibility to eavesdroppers (e.g visual high, tactile low)


Give an example of an animal which is multi-modal in communication (one that uses many modes simultaneously for communicating)

Frog- calls whilst inflates neck and sticks leg out


Species identification can be communicated for mate selection. What happens to species living sympatrically? What about allopatrically?

Sympatry is when two species living together diverge in their appearance e.g pied and collared flycatchers
Allopatric species do not diverge like this


Group identification can be communicated. How do killer whales do this?

Varied frequencies of calls can help whales identify who is in their pod and who isn't


Individual identification can be communicated. Why may this be important?

Identify your own offspring, recognise mates, recognise kin


Communication is often used in conflict (or to avoid it!). Give an example of an animal which communicate before a fight.

Red deer assess each other (sequential assessment; roars and parallel walks) to see who is likely to win. This is often done to have access to a female. Communication means they may potentially avoid damage (20-30% of stags incur injury)


Why may communication be used in territoriality?

To signal that the resident is still present in the area so others do not try and take over


Give an example of an animal which communicates to attract a mate and how it does this.

Peacocks display their feathers to communicate that they want a mate


Do offspring and parents communicate and give an example of why this is?

They do, they may communicate when they are hungry/ have food e.g birds opening their mouths to feed


When does communication take place during social intergration?

e.g meerkats may communicate to the group if they are standing and watching out for predators so the others can dig and forage


Bees are known to communicate info about the environment. How?

Honeybees exhibit a 'dance' to signal the direction of food compared to the sun to the rest of the group. The rapidity of the dance also signals the quality of the source


What is auto-communication? Name two animals which use this sort of communication.

When a signal is sent out and received back again. The change in signal informs the animal of any obstacles. E.g electric fish and bats do this


What will affect the outcome of a signal (two stages)?

The environment-how it may change the signal
The receiver- their psychology


How do jumping spiders exhibit sensory exploitation? (This is related to receiver psychology)

Female spiders orientate towards the first male they see so the one that gets her attention first. Male spiders have taken advantage of the fact that jumping spiders orientate towards movement in their peripheral field (originally for prey)


How do hummingbirds exhibit sensory exploitation? (This is related to receiver psychology)

Females are attracted to red flowers (presumably they have better or more nectar- females therefore have evolved predisposition to red) so males have red throat


Using the great tit calling to a female, explain who may eavesdrop on this sort of communication.

Predators (such as sparrow hawk), competitior (such as blue tit which know he's not in a certain area so go feed there) and rival males


Siamese fish fight to establish the social hierarchy. What was found about the fish who observed a previous fight and how long it spent time with the winner and loser?

It spent more time with the winner whereas the fish who had not seen the fight actually spent more time with the loser


Secret communication channels are beneficial to the animal as other cannot eavesdrop. Give an example of one.

Southern black widow has a red hourglass shape on it which only birds can see and not mammals. This means birds avoid eating it but does not affect the hunting of the spider on other animals


The environment is also important in communication. Using warblers as an example, how can a bird look different in different environments?

The darker the environment, the brighter the patches on the birds are


Using blue tits, describe the pattern seen in the frequency ranges of their calls in forests vs woodlands.

Forests- narrower freq. range and lower max. freq. range
This is because forests are much denser than woodlands so attenuate the sounds much more and low freq. sounds are attenuated less by objects so makes sense


What has happened in reference to frequency and amplitude of bird songs due to urbanisation?

Due to the increasing noise, birds have increased their freq of songs to distinguish it from low frequency noises such as cars


Why may animals signal dishonestly?

To trick the receiver into thinking there is a situation going on that is not actually occurring. This often benefits the signaller and not the receiver


Give an example of a dishonest signal seen in Great tits.

False alarm calls to lure the others away from food sources. This means the individual can avoid conflict with individuals higher than them in the social hierarchy


Batesian mimicry is a type of dishonest signal. What is batesian mimicry?

When organisms mimic another animal to imply they are poisonous when they are not. This means they do not have to waste energy on production of toxins but still get the benefits of scaring off predators (aposematic colouration) e.g toxic nudibranchs and flatworm mimicry


What sort of dishonest signals do angler fish use?

Luring predators with its glowing part on head


What is a sneaker male (dishonest signal)?

When they disguise as females and sneak matings with the females e.g lizards


Honest signals often have a constraint or cost. How do peacocks have a 'handicap' signal?

Have large feathers and bright spots which proves to female that it is an easy target for predators but has managed to survive implying that it is fit. This theory is controversial but many studies show higher quality birds to have 'handicaps'