Attribution of Information in Animal Interaction

Biological Theory 13 (3):164–179 (2018)
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This article establishes grounds on which attributions of information and encoding in animal signals are warranted. As common interest increases between evolutionary agents, the theoretical approach best suited to describing their interaction shifts from evolutionary game theory to communication theory, which warrants informational language. The take-home positive message is that in cooperative settings, signals can appropriately be described as transmitting encoded information, regardless of the cognitive powers of signalers. The canonical example is the honeybee waggle dance, which is discussed extensively in the second and third sections. The take-home negative message is that signals are not always a consequence of coadaptation. The communication theory approach is just one end of a continuum explored more thoroughly by evolutionary game theory. The fourth and fifth sections explore this wider framework, as well as overturning some widely held misconceptions about information theory.
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