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The Evolution of Animal Communication: Reliability and Deception in Signaling Systems

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691070957
ISBN-10: 0691070954
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"William Searcy and Stephen Nowicki provide a fascinating perspective on the honesty of signals in animal communication systems. . . . [A] comprehensive yet concise review of what we currently know concerning signal reliability in animals, enriched with many in-depth examples."--Katherine E. LeVan and Noah Wilson-Rich, Science

"The book is well written and informative. . . . Searcy and Nowicki are well-known experts in the field of animal communication and sexual selection, and they provide a thorough and careful overview of this important, but often under-discussed, topic."--R. Andrew Hayes, Austral Ecology

"The book is a fascinating evaluation of the present state of reliability and deception in animal signaling systems. It would make a perfect, albeit somewhat controversial, focus for an honors biology or graduate seminar course on animal communication."--H.Jane Brockmann, BioScience

From the Back Cover

"The Evolution of Animal Communication is a wonderful book. It takes an extremely important hot topic and begins where one should, with a careful analysis of its theoretical underpinnings. More than a review of the work done by others, it is a significant new contribution on its own. . . . one of the best examples of well-written technical science writing that I have encountered in a long time."--Robert Seyfarth, University of Pennsylvania, author of How Monkeys See the World: Inside the Mind of Another Species

"This book is required reading for anyone with an interest in animal communication. The level of detail is just right, the examples are very helpful and the text is well written and well organized. Those interested in sexual selection will gain a more realistic, and perhaps naturalistic, understanding of the communication that underpins much of their field."--Peter McGregor, Cornwall College

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691070954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691070957
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,834,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Ian Stewart on October 26, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I work in this research area myself (status signaling, birds) and have come to rely on this book heavily. Both authors are well-respected and well published in this field, and clearly know what they're talking about. They start off with a very thorough introductory chapter where they describe the history of the field and define the terms used throughout the book, then go on in various chapters to cover the whole breadth of signalling, including nestling begging, alarm calling, mating/sexual signals, the significance of bird song and calls, badges of status (an especially good section), eavesdropping, then honesty and deception etc. I like the way they differentiate the chapters into signaling when interests either overlap, diverge or oppose.

I also liked the way they cover a range of taxa rather than limit things to birds (even though both are primarily bird guys) and use the best studies as examples regardless of whether they involve insects, fish or mammals etc. It's well written, the graphs are good, the figures/pictures are good, and all in all it is a very tight, informative book. The price has come down a lot recently, and anything around $50 is a great deal, as it is 250 page book with a lot packed into it.

I really recommend this book to anyone studying signaling, whether they be an undergrad, grad student or even a professor wanting a comprehensive summary. I certainly find it a lot more compelling that the rather disappointing and relatively superficial book by Maynard Smith and Harper which came out around the same time (and aimed perhaps more at modellers). This is a great book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Searcy and Nowicki are two of the best behaviorists anywhere who study animal communication. This book is a thorough examination of signals that "must be" truthful by their nature and those than the sender can fake. Everyone interested in animal signaling should read this book.
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