Article

Information and its use by animals in evolutionary ecology. Trends Ecol Evol

Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter in Cornwall, Tremough Campus, Penryn, UK, TR10 9EZ.
Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Impact Factor: 16.2). 05/2005; 20(4):187-93. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2005.01.010
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Information is a crucial currency for animals from both a behavioural and evolutionary perspective. Adaptive behaviour relies upon accurate estimation of relevant ecological parameters; the better informed an individual, the better it can develop and adjust its behaviour to meet the demands of a variable world. Here, we focus on the burgeoning interest in the impact of ecological uncertainty on adaptation, and the means by which it can be reduced by gathering information, from both 'passive' and 'responsive' sources. Our overview demonstrates the value of adopting an explicitly informational approach, and highlights the components that one needs to develop useful approaches to studying information use by animals. We propose a quantitative framework, based on statistical decision theory, for analysing animal information use in evolutionary ecology. Our purpose is to promote an integrative approach to studying information use by animals, which is itself integral to adaptive animal behaviour and organismal biology.

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    • "Tests comparing the use of a social signal and an environmenttracking type strategy, with no alternative nonsocial signal, are more common. Results from these types of tests, like ours, align with the predictions of statistical decision theory: use whatever information is most reliable (Dall et al., 2005). Sticklebacks (vanBergen et al., 2004), bats (Jones, Ryan, Flores, & Page, 2013), bumblebees (Leadbeater & Chittka, 2009) and rats (Galef & Whiskin, 2008) learn socially when their environment is less certain than the available social information is reliable, or when they do not have much experience with the environment. "
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    • "Monospecific and mixed groups decrease individual predation risk as group size increases (Treherne & Foster, 1982). Some species eavesdrop (Dall et al., 2005), responding to alarm calls of associating species, which may have alternative methods to detect predators (Bshary & No€ e, 1997), and some associate with other species more adept at detecting predators (Fitzgibbon, 1990). "

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