Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Current Zoology 57:2 (2011), pp. i-v;
Used by permission.


The term ‘complex signaling’ reflects a recent scientific focus on the multiple elements frequently incorporated into animal signals (reviewed in Candolin, 2003; Hebets and Papaj, 2005; Partan and Marler, 2005; Bro-Jorgensen, 2010). It embodies a new appreciation that signals used in communication are regularly composed of numerous components and that each component may individually vary in a number of ways. For example, signal components may vary in their time or mechanism of production, in the efficacy of their transmission, and/or in their mechanism of reception, among others. Employing the term ‘complex signaling’ reminds us of the need to maintain a broad, inclusive view of the dynamic, interactive nature of communication when trying to understand its evolutionary history and current function.