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signalsignal (fr.); Signal (ger.)

  • A gesture, action, sound, etc., intended to convey warning, direction, or information; an intimation. (OED 2011)
    Hobbes, T. (1658). De homine (Opera Philosophica, vol. II, London 1839, 1-132): 88 (chap. 10).
    ein Signal ist Teil der physikalischen Seinswelt; ein Symbol ist Teil der menschlichen Bedeutungswelt. Signale sind ›Operatoren‹, Symbole sind ›Designatoren‹
    Cassirer, E. (1996). Versuch über den Menschen (orig. 1944): 58.
    Signalkodex von Ausdrucksbewegungen und -lauten
    Lorenz, K. (1949). Er redete mit dem Vieh, den Vögeln und den Fischen: 119.
    the signal usually involves little expenditure of energy by X [the sender], and has a large positive or negative effect on Y’s [the receiver’s] energy expenditure
    Haldane, J.B.S. (1955). Animal communication and the origin of human language. Science Progress 43 (171), 385-401: 385.
    Communication between animals involves the giving off by one individual of some chemical or physical signal, that, on being received by another, influences its behaviour
    Frings, H. & Frings, M. (1964). Animal Communication: 3.

    [C]ommunication among animals involves the transmission of information or some other commodity from one participant to another. That is, it is thought that something is literally made common to both signaler and recipients that would otherwise remain the private possession of the signaler. This idea is closely associated with the notion that communication occurs only when an animal, the signaler, performs some sort of action and by this action generates the signal whose reception by others comprises the information transmission

    Bastian, J. (1968). Psychological perspectives. In: Sebeok, T.A. (ed.). Animal Communications, 572-591: 577.

    Communication is the phenomenon of one organism producing a signal that, when responded to by another organism, confers some advantage (or the statistical probability of it) to the signaler or his group
    Burghardt, G.M. (1970). Defining “communication”. In Johnston Jr, J. W., Moulton, D. G., & Turk, A. (eds.), Communication by Chemical Signals, 5-18: 16.
    The transmission of a signal or signals between two or more organisms where selection has favoured both the production and reception of the signal(s)
    Lewis, D.B. & Gower, D.M. (1980). Biology of Communication: 1.

    signal Any behaviour that conveys information from one individual to another.

    Lincoln, R.J., Boxshall, G.A. & Clark, P.F. (1982). A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics: 227.

    [A] signal is a trait that is selected to manipulate an addressee [...] to the advantage of the sender of this signal
    Markl, H. (1985). Manipulation, modulation, information, cognition: some of the riddles of communication. In: Hölldobler, B. & Lindauer, M. (eds.). Experimental Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (= Fortschritte der Zoologie, Bd. 31), 163-194: 165.
    [T]he process in which actors use specially designed [i.e. designed by natural seelction] signals or displays to modify the behaviour of reactors
    Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. (1981/93). Introduction to Behavioural Ecology: 349.
    [T]raits whose effect on their bearer’s F-component [i.e. basic fitness] is non-positive, and whose positive specific effect on their bearer’s (signaler’s) fitness stems from the fact that they change information held by other individuals (recipients). The recipient’s changed information eventually results in corresponding change in their behavior
    Hasson, O. (1994). Cheating signals. J. theor. Biol. 167, 223-238: 225.

    We believe that natural selection encompasses two different, and often opposing, processes. One kind of selection favors straightforward efficiency, and it works in all areas except signaling. This selection makes features—other than signals—more effective and less costly; we suggest calling it “utilitarian selection.” The other kind of selection, by which signals evolve, results in costly features and traits that look like “waste.” It is precisely this costliness, the signaler’s investment in the signals, that makes signals reliable. We suggest calling this process “signal selection.”

    Zahavi, A. & Zahavi, A. (1997). The Handicap Principle. A Missing Piece of Darwin’s Puzzle: 40.

    We define a ›signal‹ as any act or structure which alters the behaviour of other organisms, which evolved because of that effect, and which is effective because the receiver’s response has evolved
    Maynard Smith, J. & Harper, D.G.C. (2003). Animal Signals: 3.
    there is no such thing as failed communication, only failed – that is unreceived – signalling
    Scott-Phillips, T.C. (2008). Defining biological communication. J. evol. Biol. 21, 387-395: 389.

    Communication: The completion of corresponding signals and responses. […] Signal: Any act or structure that (i) affects the behaviour of other organisms; (ii) evolved because of those effects; and (iii) which is effective because the effect (the response) has evolved to be affected by the act or structure

    Scott-Phillips, T.C. (2008). Defining biological communication. J. evol. Biol. 21, 387-395: 388.

    Animal signaling is [...] the use of specialized, species-typical morphology or behavior to influence the current or future behavior of another individual
    Owren, M.J., Rendall, D. & Ryan, M.J. (2010). Redifining animal signals: influence versus information in communication. Biol. Philos. 25, 755-780: 771.