About this Research Topic
The ability to recognize individuals and communicate with fellow group members is crucial to the evolution of complex social behavior. At a minimum, cooperating individuals must produce and receive signals that identify themselves as appropriate partners, and collective behaviors require group members to communicate their intentions and synchronize their actions. But how do mechanisms of recognition and communication co-evolve with social behavior, and how do similar signaling abilities arise across animal lineages with vastly different sensory systems and cognitive capacities?
Mechanisms of communication and recognition, using different sensory modalities, have been investigated across diverse animal systems. Progress in our understanding of the roles of communication in social systems is uneven across both contexts and taxonomic divides, but perhaps more significantly, these studies are rarely synthesized to seek common patterns across taxa. Studies of social insects have a substantial focus on the role of chemical communication for individual identity, such as cuticular hydrocarbons for recognition systems and more specific pheromones for queen fertility. Studies of social vertebrates investigate the co-evolution of vocal complexity and social group size in primates and, more recently, the significance for young birds of learning family-specific vocalizations while still in the nest. Much of this research has focused on the relationship between signaling and social evolution, although there is an emerging interest in considering how selection acts on the receiver.
This Research Topic will bring together leading evolutionary theoreticians and empiricists to discuss the proximate mechanisms and selective pressures that favour the diversity of communication and recognition systems of social animals. With a wide range of taxa, extending from bacteria to insects to humans, and with mathematical treatments of the evolutionary stability of recognition systems, this reflection of our current understanding of the field will surely help shape future research directions.
Keywords: Social evolution, communication, signals, recognition, co-evolution
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