Alarm signal


Alarm calls have been studied in many species, such as Belding's ground squirrels.
Characteristic 'ticking' alarm call of a European robin, Erithacus rubecula

In animal communication, an alarm signal is an antipredator adaptation in the form of signals emitted by social animals in response to danger. Many primates and birds have elaborate alarm calls for warning conspecifics of approaching predators. For example, the alarm call of the blackbird is a familiar sound in many gardens. Other animals, like fish and insects, may use non-auditory signals, such as chemical messages. Visual signs such as the white tail flashes of many deer have been suggested as alarm signals; they are less likely to be received by conspecifics, so have tended to be treated as a signal to the predator instead.

Different calls may be used for predators on the ground or from the air. Often, the animals can tell which member of the group is making the call, so that they can disregard those of little reliability.[1]

Evidently, alarm signals promote survival by allowing the receivers of the alarm to escape from the source of peril; this can evolve by kin selection, assuming the receivers are related to the signaller. However, alarm calls can increase individual fitness, for example by informing the predator it has been detected.[2]

Alarm calls are often high-frequency sounds because these sounds are harder to localize.[3][4]

  1. ^ Biology Letters. Titi monkey call sequences vary with predator location and type
  2. ^ Zuberbühler, Klaus; Jenny, David; Bshary, Redouan (1999). "The Predator Deterrence Function of Primate Alarm Calls" (PDF). Ethology. 105 (6): 477–490. doi:10.1046/j.1439-0310.1999.00396.x.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2011-03-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "The Semantics of Vervet Monkey Alarm Calls: Part I". 2011-03-09.

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