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Patrizia d'Ettorre and David P. Hughes

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216840.001.0001

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Chemical communication and the coordination of social interactions in insects

Chemical communication and the coordination of social interactions in insects

(p.81) CHAPTER 5 Chemical communication and the coordination of social interactions in insects
Sociobiology of Communication

Patrizia d'Ettorre

Allen J Moore

Oxford University Press

Effective communication, often involving pheromones, is a fundamental component of social life. Communication requires interactions to be expressed and it is convenient to consider communication within the context of the theory of interacting phenotypes — those phenotypes that have reduced or no meaning outside of a social context. Pheromonal communication will therefore be subject to social selection and indirect genetic effects and is often highly sophisticated and multifaceted, allowing fine-tuned coordination of messages from senders and receivers. Pheromones can be characterized by nested levels of variation: a multi-component structure in which individual components contain additional source of variation. An integrated understanding of communication by multi-component chemical signals provides insight into the evolution of social signals in general. Insects are ideal model systems to investigate and disentangle the complexity of pheromones and reveal the underestimated potential for reliability that appears to be hidden in chemical signals and their evolutionary stability.

Keywords:   pheromone, social selection, interacting phenotypes, multi-component signals, chemical communication, ants

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