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Animal Communication Theory
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Book description

The explanation of animal communication by means of concepts like information, meaning and reference is one of the central foundational issues in animal behaviour studies. This book explores these issues, revolving around questions such as: what is the nature of information? What theoretical roles does information play in animal communication studies? Is it justified to employ these concepts in order to explain animal communication? What is the relation between animal signals and human language? The book approaches the topic from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including ethology, animal cognition, theoretical biology and evolutionary biology, as well as philosophy of biology and mind. A comprehensive introduction familiarises non-specialists with the field and leads on to chapters ranging from philosophical and theoretical analyses to case studies involving primates, birds and insects. The resulting survey of new and established concepts and methodologies will guide future empirical and theoretical research.


The best aspect of the book [is] that it not only provides ideas about communication but the evidence and thought processes behind them - an excellent example of scientific theory making in action. Summing up: highly recommended.'

J. A. Mather Source: Choice

'This book debates the role of information in animal communication by presenting opinion and evidence from diverse disciplines, such as evolutionary biology, ethology, linguistics, and neurophysiology. It also includes valuable philosophical contributions about the nature of information and meaning.'

David R. Wilson Source: The Quarterly Review of Biology

'I would recommend the book to readers who already have a solid understanding of the concepts of behavioural ecology and want a stimulus to think about key issues in communication and to explore the literature more broadly. A unique contribution the book makes is its interdisciplinary set of authors: as a newcomer to linguistics and philosophy, I found the chapters on these disciplines to be an interesting taste of these fields’ approaches. This thought-provoking book would make for a good semester-long graduate-level seminar: I anticipate that many of its chapters would generate lively discussion among researchers on animal communication.'

Jessie Barker Source: International Society for Behavioral Ecology Newsletter

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