IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Making the most of alarm signals: the adaptive value of individual discrimination in an alarm context

Listed author(s):
  • Kimberly A. Pollard
Registered author(s):

    The value of individual discrimination is straightforward for many signal contexts, such as with contact or isolation calls, territorial marks, or status announcements. In contrast, the value of individual discrimination is less straightforward for alarm signals, and it is not yet known how or under what circumstances individual discrimination would be beneficial in an alarm context. One proposed mechanism is that receivers may discriminate individual signalers and respond differently based on the signaler's reliability, and that this may allow the receivers to optimize their antipredator behavior. To evaluate this mechanism, I constructed a dynamic model to test the fitness outcomes of 5 receiver response strategies under varying environmental, life history, and social conditions. The individual discrimination strategy yielded the highest fitness under the widest range of conditions, and the difference was substantial except in cases of very low predation pressure and high signaler accuracy. The adaptive value of individual discrimination of alarm signals may thus be a general phenomenon in nature and may provide evolutionary pressure for animals to increase their discrimination abilities. For species that use alarm signals nepotistically, the value of individual discrimination could provide selective pressure for the evolution of individual signatures in alarms and may help explain why the alarm signals of many species are so individualistic. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by International Society for Behavioral Ecology in its journal Behavioral Ecology.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 93-100

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:1:p:93-100
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

    Fax: 01865 267 985
    Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:1:p:93-100. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.