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Lecture 12

BIOL 375 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Song Sparrow, Great Horned Owl, Brown Thrasher

Course Code
BIOL 375
Thomas Giardina

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1. Definition
a. Transfer of information from a signaler to a receiver. Note: Information doesn’t have to be
accurate. Just need to be transferred.
b. Not always easy to know when communication is taking place. Can be quite subtle. If it happens
accidentally, is that communication?
Careful! Not always easy to know when communication is taking place
What if it’s accidental?
Cautionary tale of Clever Hans
Clever Hans apparently able to do simple mathematics. Could answer questions
like square root of 9, addition/subtraction. Using subtle and unintentional cues
from testers to know when to stop tapping hoof. Was indeed very clever, but
doesn’t know math
c. Communication between animals and humans
Rarity as rule: Should be pretty rare.
Should only see in domesticated animals: Only expect it in organisms that evolved
specifically to interact with us. Horses, dogs, cats. Also, as we’ll see, hard to know what’s
going on.
2. Evolution of Communication
a. Origins in reading others’ intentions, postures, hormone profiles, behavior evolved for other
b. Transition to ritualization, from these origins evolved to signal
Exaggeration, standardization, and emphasizing contrast with opposite meaning (like play
3. Signal Type: But how to make your signal heard? In diff env, diff signals might transmit better.
Competition with everyone else signaling.
a. How to be heard?
Auditory signals in water much faster than through air
Increase frequency and amplitude of calls
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