Introduction

Communication is a social behavior that mediates fundamental aspects of animals' lives. It is important during reproduction - playing a role in attracting another individual of the same species and coordinating mating, and extending to aspects of parental care. It is also important in many aspects of survival - from being alerted to the presence of predators by warning calls, through signaling prey defenses, to indicating food sources and defending them. Communication is also often conspicuous to the extent of being spectacular; examples are choruses of songbirds, cicadas, and frogs, and the coordinated displays of fireflies.

Communication is generally thought of as a characteristic of animals, but there are instances in which plants share features of animal communication. For example, the response of some plants to airborne chemicals indicating that a neighbor has been attacked has features in common with the warning or alarm calls of animals. However, as most information on communication comes from the animal kingdom, this article deals with animal communication. The article will begin by introducing key concepts in communication; it will then proceed to discuss the influence of physical and social environments on communication behavior, and it will end by looking at current issues linking behavior and ecology and will touch upon a role in applied ecology.

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