- Communication is when one animal transmits information to another animal causing some kind of change in the animal that gets the information.
- Communication is usually between animals of a single species, but it can also happen between two animals of different species.
- Animals communicate using signals, which can include visual; auditory, or sound-based; chemical, involving pheromones; or tactile, touch-based, cues.
- Communication behaviors can help animals find mates, establish dominance, defend territory, coordinate group behavior, and care for young.
Communication takes many forms
- Auditory cues—sounds
- Visual cues
- Tactile cues—touch
- Monkeys cry out a warning when a predator is near, giving the other members of the troop a chance to escape. Vervet monkeys even have different calls to indicate different predators.
- Bullfrogs croak to attract female frogs as mates. In some frog species, the sounds can be heard up to a mile away!
- Gibbons use calls to mark their territory, keeping potential competitors away. A paired male and female, and even their offspring, may make the calls together.
What is communication used for?
- Obtaining mates. Many animals have elaborate communication behaviors surrounding mating, which may involve attracting a mate or competing with other potential suitors for access to mates.
- Establishing dominance or defending territory. In many species, communication behaviors are important in establishing dominance in a social hierarchy or defending territory.
- Coordinating group behaviors. In social species, communication is key in coordinating the activities of the group, such as food acquisition and defense, and in maintaining group cohesion.
- Caring for young. Among species that provide parental care to offspring, communication coordinates parent and offspring behaviors to help ensure that the offspring will survive.