animal communication

 

The Enemy of My Enemy Means More Food–Monkeys Use Human Shields

Posted 29 July 2014 by Anne-Marie Hodge

The human species is a major driver of biodiversity loss across the globe. Occasionally, however, that propensity for extermination can become an advantage for animals that associate with us. What could be better protection from competing species than the presence of a menace that threatens wildlife? Sometimes, being the enemy of an enemy can turn us into a "friend"--or at least the lesser of two evils. This issue was highlighted in recent study involving the samango monkey (Cercopithecus mitis erythrarcus),... Read more

“Casanovas are Liars” and the launch of a new open-access science journal

Posted 28 August 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge

It is well known that higher quality items tend to be more desired, and often more expensive, than their lower quality counterparts. This applies to everything from tomatoes to cell phones to sexual partners. Social species face a quandary if the quantity of preferred items is limited, however, and competition is especially intense if members of that species commonly mimic each other's choices. For example, if you express a preference for something, you are indicating that you think it's relatively... Read more

Slimy Signals Save Salamanders

Posted 22 August 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge

Everyone has experienced it: you hear a scream or shout of alarm coming from someone nearby, and instantly you feel your own blood pressure rise. Your metabolism revs up, you scan the area around you, and you might even physically jolt. All of this can happen before you've even observed the potential threat--you're reacting entirely to a cue from another person. We are tightly tuned to react to the alarm signals of others, because a threat to one member of... Read more

How do “fish of a feather” shoal together?

Posted 8 February 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge

“Birds of a feather flock together,” as the old saying goes, and that simple axiom raises many fascinating questions. Do animals really choose to associate with conspecifics that closely resemble themselves? If so, how do they even determine, without the either aid of mirrors or cognitive abilities that enable self-recognition, who is “of a feather” and who is not? Why would once choose to be “just a face in the crowd,” or even a member of a crowd at all?... Read more

Shake Your Tailfeathers, Cretaceous Style

Posted 5 January 2013 by Anne-Marie Hodge

When it comes to fancy courtship displays, birds rule the roost: their outlandish antics have been the subject of endless fascination, nature documentaries, and YouTube videos. The feathered creatures make moves that seem to be unparalleled in the natural world. (No, Michael Jackson concerts don’t count as the “natural world). It is important to keep in mind, however, that modern birds are not the only feathered creatures to have ever walked—or, perhaps, danced—the earth. There is now abundant evidence that... Read more

Humpbacks Multitask for Mates

Posted 31 December 2012 by Anne-Marie Hodge

The trade-offs between rewards involved in either foraging or courting mates have likely plagued animals for millennia. The need to feed often competes with the requirement to reproduce . . . and yet one cannot successfully secure a mate and raise offspring without adequate resources. This dilemma means that animals must carefully balance the time and energy they allocate to each endeavor. Humans may be able to cruise for dates in the grocery store, but few other animals are so... Read more