Wenner, Adrian M. Department of Biological Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, California.
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A discipline within the field of animal behavior that focuses on the reception and use of signals. Animal communication could well include all of animal behavior because a liberal definition of the term signal could encompass all stimuli perceived by an animal. However, most research in animal communication deals only with those cases in which one member of a species generates a signal, defined as a structured stimulus, that subsequently influences the behavior of another member of the same species in a predictable way (intraspecific communication) [Fig. 1]. In this context, communication occurs in virtually all animal species, if only as a means by which a member of one sex finds its partner. In general, the field of animal communication includes an analysis of the physical characteristics of those signals believed to be responsible in any given case of information transfer. See also: Ethology; Instinctive behavior; Neuroethology; Physiological ecology (animal); Primate communication
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