Communication in Animals, Biology tutorial


Communication is basically the transfer of information from one animal to the other. It needs a sender and receiver which are mutually adapted to one other. The sender should send a clear signal to the receiver. Communication can take place in species (Intraspecific) or among species (Interspecific). Intraspecific communication in animal is extremely significant for reproductive success. Illustrations of Intraspecific communication comprise warning signals, like the rattle of a rattle snakes tail and the skunk's appearance of its hindquarters and tail.

Animals employ a diversity of modalities for communication, comprising visual, auditory, tactile and chemical signals. Natural selection has affected the features of a signal system. Animals have evolved combinations of signals which might be more efficient than any single signal.

Visual communication:

Visual communication is significant to numerous animals because a huge amount of information can be conveyed in a short period of time. Most of the animals (example: cephalopod mollusk, arthropods and most of the vertebrates other than mammals) having well-developed eyes encompass color vision. Most of the fishes, reptiles and birds show brilliant color patterns which generally encompass a signaling function. Most of the mammals have plain, darker colors and lack color vision as they are nocturnal, as were their probable ancestors- nocturnal insectivores. Primates are a notable exception in that they have both color vision and colorful displays.

A visual signal might be present at all times, as are the bright facial markings of a male mandrill. The signal might be hidden or positioned on a less exposed portion of an animal's body and then all of a sudden presented. Some of the lizards, like green anoles can in reality change their color via activities of pigment cells in the skin.

Visual signals contain some demerits in those different objects in the environment might block the line of sight and/or the signals might be hard to see over a long distance. As well, the signals are generally not efficient at night and might be detected through predators.

Acoustic communication:

Arthropods and vertebrates generally use acoustic or sound communication. These animals should expend energy to generate sounds however sounds can be employed throughout the night or day. Sound waves as well have the benefit of traveling around objects and might be generated or received while an animal is in the open or covered up. Sounds can carry a huge amount of information because of the numerous possible variations in frequency, duration, volume and tone.

The Acoustic communication systems are closely adapted to the ecological conditions in which they are employed and the function of the signal. For illustration, tropical forest birds produce low frequency calls which pass simply via dense vegetation. Most of primates in tropical forests generate sounds which travel over long distances. Other illustrations comprise the calls of territorial birds which sit on a high perch to deliver the signal more efficiently and the alarm calls of numerous small species of birds. A few of the more complicated acoustic signals which have been studied are birdsong and human speech.

Tactile Communication:

Tactile communication signifies to the communication among animals in physical contact with one other. The antennae of numerous invertebrates and the touch receptors in the skin of vertebrates function in tactile communication. Some illustrations of tactile communication are birds preening the feathers of other birds and primates grooming one other.

Chemical communication:

This is other general mode of communication. Unicellular organisms by chemoreceptor can identify members of their own species. Chemical signals are well developed in fishes, insects, salamanders and mammals. Benefits of chemical signals are that they (a) generally give a simple message that can last for hours or days; (b) are efficient night or day (c) can pass around objects; (d) might be transported over long distances; (e) take comparatively little energy to produce.

Demerits of chemical signals are that they can't be changed quickly and are slow to act.

Chemicals which are synthesized by one organism and that influence the behavior of the other member of the similar species are termed as pheromones. Olfactory receptors in the receiving animal generally detect chemical signals. Most of the animals mark their territories through depositing odors which act as chemical signals to other animals of the similar species. For illustrations, most of the male mammals mark specific points in their territories having pheromones which warn other males of their presence in the region. The similar pheromones might as well fascinate females which are in the breeding condition.

Differences in the chemical structure of pheromones might be directly associated to their function. Pheromones employed for making territories and fascinating mates generally last longer since of their higher molecular weights. Airborne signals encompass lower molecular weight and disperse simply. For illustration, the sex attractant pheromones of female moths which are ready to mate are airborne and males some kilometers away can detect them.

Communication systems:

Auditory: Humans and birds, a few insects (that is, crickets)

Olfactory: Most mammals, moths

Visual: Bees and dancing and fireflies at night

Altruism: Personal sacrifice for the good of the group

Alarm call of mammals: Belding's Ground Squirrels

Cooperative breeding: African bee-eaters, Scrub Jays

Introduction to social behavior:

Social behavior usually signifies to any interactions among members of the similar species; however it as well applies to animals of various species, excluding predator- prey interactions. A group of animals might form an aggregation for a few simple purposes, like feeding, drinking or mating. A true animal society is a stable group of individuals of the similar species which maintains a cooperative social relationship. This relationship usually extends beyond the level of mating and taking care of young. Social behavior has evolved independently in numerous species of animals; invertebrates encompass complex social organizations.

Living in groups:

Animal populations are frequently organized into groups. A group of animals might form an aggregation for a few simple purposes, like drinking, feeding or mating.

Some of the Drosophila flies on a piece of rotting fruit are an illustration of an aggregation. A true animal society is a stable group of individuals of the similar species which maintains a cooperative social relationship. This relationship usually extends beyond the level of mating and taking care of young. Social behavior has evolved independently in numerous species of animals; invertebrates encompass complex social organizations.

One main benefit of belonging to a group might be that it provides protection against predators. There is safety in numbers and predator detection might be improved by having some group members on alert to warn against an intruder. As well cooperative hunting and capture of prey raise the feeding efficiency of predators. Living in the social groups is as well beneficial in some instances due to the capability to gain protection from the elements (example: huddling altogether in cold weather) and throughout the procedures of mate finding and rearing of young. In most of the species, most notably the social insects, living groups has resulted in the evolutionary division of labor, by means of specific individuals performing specialized tasks (that is, food procurement, defense and feeding of young).

A drawback of group living might be competition for resources. Other demerits comprise the diseases and parasites which might spread more quickly in group-living animals and interference among individuals with regard to reproduction and rearing of young. The value of group living based on the species and behaviors comprised.

Various illustrations of social behavior in animals:

Social Behavior: Any interactions among two or more individuals.

Anti-predatory behavior: Group defense in the Musk Ox.

Agonistic behavior: Ritualized behaviors which replace for physical contact and fighting-yawn of dogs, baboons and baring their teeth, cats and increasing their fur, birds increasing their feathers.

Fighting and physical contact, coyotes, wolves, seals, walruses and so on.

Dominance hierarchies: Peck order of turkeys and chickens

Territoriality: Birds and birdsong - breeding, year-round territories, wintering, size of territory associated to size of bird (like small birds having small territories, big birds with large territories, a few exceptions-colonial nesting species - big birds having small territories

Marking territories can be noticed in Birds - birdsong; Mammals - urine; Carpenter bees - continually standing guard

Reproductive behavior: Courtship is extremely ritualized, species particular behavior


Mole rats of Asia: identical to hymenopterous insect colonies having Queen and workers, workers protect and nourish the Queen, give up reproductive opportunities instance - sticklebacks.

Reproductive behavior: mating systems

Monogamy: one male and one female

Polygamy: one male and several females

Polygon: one male and several females

Polyandry: one female and several males

Promiscuity: whatever thing goes

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