How signaling geometry shapes the efficacy and evolution of animal communication systems

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S6-7  Tue Jan 5 15:00 – 15:30  How signaling geometry shapes the efficacy and evolution of animal communication systems Echeverri, S; Miller, AE; Chen, J; McQueen, E; Plakke, M; Spicer, M; Hoke, KL; Stoddard, MC; Morehouse, NI*; University of Pittsburgh; Princeton University; Emory University; University of Pittsburgh; University of Kansas; University of Puget Sound; Colorado State University; Princeton University; University of Cincinnati

Animal communication is inherently spatial. Both signal transmission and signal reception have spatial biases–involving direction, distance and position–that interact to determine signaling efficacy. For example, color signals are often visible only from specific angles, and animal eyes often have limited fields of view for color perception. Alignment between these directional biases is therefore critical for effective communication, with even slight misalignments disrupting perception of color information. Signals can also degrade as they travel from signaler to receiver, and environmental conditions that impact transmission can vary over even small spatiotemporal scales. Thus, how animals position themselves during communication is likely to be under strong selection. Despite this, our knowledge regarding the spatial arrangements of signalers and receivers during communication remains surprisingly coarse for most systems. We know even less about how signaler and receiver behaviors contribute to proper signaling alignment over time, and how signals themselves may have evolved to influence and/or respond to these aspects of animal communication. Here, we first describe why researchers should adopt a more explicitly geometric view of animal signaling, including issues of direction, distance, and position. We review how signaling geometry influences communication dynamics across signaling modalities. We then explore how recent scientific advances (e.g., new tools for monitoring animal movements) offer inroads into this important aspect of animal communication. We conclude with recommendations and future directions made visible by attention to the geometry of signaling.

the Society for
Integrative &