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Vocal communication in social groups


Fichtel, C; Manser, M B (2010). Vocal communication in social groups. In: Kappeler, P. Animal behaviour : evolution and mechanisms. Heidelberg: Springer, 29-54.

Abstract

Vocal communication plays a particularly important role in the regulation of social interactions and in the coordination of activities in many mammals and birds that are organised into social groups. Previous research on the function and evolution of vocal signals has mainly considered dyadic interactions of a signaller and its addressed receiver. However, in social groups it is likely that additional individuals attend to dyadic communication and that they use this information to their own benefit, sometimes with severe costs to the signaller. To improve existing communication models, benefits and costs of vocal communication caused by bystanders must therefore also be considered. Here we discuss vocal communication in social groups and identify the effect of additional individuals on signalling interactions, concentrating on audience effects, eavesdropping and group coordination. First, review of the existing literature reveals that the presence of an audience, i.e., additional individuals within the signalling range, clearly affects the outcome of communicative interactions, and that individuals modulate their signalling behaviour according to the presence of bystanders or a particular category of bystanders in a variety of contexts. Second, social knowledge acquired by eavesdropping on the communicative network within a group influences not only future actions, but can also provide individual benefits for eavesdroppers, whereas mutual eavesdropping can structure cooperation and alliance formation, and, hence, contribute to long-term group stability. Third, communicative networks also provide a means to facilitate the maintenance of group cohosion and decision-making processes. In conclusion, cost-benefit analyses at the level of dyadic interactions reveal clear differences with communication networks, where repeated interactions with multiple partners are considered. Future communication models and empirical studies should therefore consider the composition of the entire communication network as well as the effects of repeated interactions to fully understand signalling interactions in social groups.

Vocal communication plays a particularly important role in the regulation of social interactions and in the coordination of activities in many mammals and birds that are organised into social groups. Previous research on the function and evolution of vocal signals has mainly considered dyadic interactions of a signaller and its addressed receiver. However, in social groups it is likely that additional individuals attend to dyadic communication and that they use this information to their own benefit, sometimes with severe costs to the signaller. To improve existing communication models, benefits and costs of vocal communication caused by bystanders must therefore also be considered. Here we discuss vocal communication in social groups and identify the effect of additional individuals on signalling interactions, concentrating on audience effects, eavesdropping and group coordination. First, review of the existing literature reveals that the presence of an audience, i.e., additional individuals within the signalling range, clearly affects the outcome of communicative interactions, and that individuals modulate their signalling behaviour according to the presence of bystanders or a particular category of bystanders in a variety of contexts. Second, social knowledge acquired by eavesdropping on the communicative network within a group influences not only future actions, but can also provide individual benefits for eavesdroppers, whereas mutual eavesdropping can structure cooperation and alliance formation, and, hence, contribute to long-term group stability. Third, communicative networks also provide a means to facilitate the maintenance of group cohosion and decision-making processes. In conclusion, cost-benefit analyses at the level of dyadic interactions reveal clear differences with communication networks, where repeated interactions with multiple partners are considered. Future communication models and empirical studies should therefore consider the composition of the entire communication network as well as the effects of repeated interactions to fully understand signalling interactions in social groups.

Citations

10 citations in Web of Science®
10 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:15 April 2010
Deposited On:04 Mar 2011 15:41
Last Modified:14 Sep 2016 13:45
Publisher:Springer
ISBN:978-3-642-02623-2
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-02624-9_2
Official URL:http://www.springerlink.com/content/x64358/#section=684130&page=1
Related URLs:http://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?fn=search&mode=Advanced&vid=ZAD&vl%28186672378UI0%29=isbn&vl%281UI0%29=contains&vl%28freeText0%29=978-3-642-02623-2

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