Clarifying and expanding the social complexity hypothesis for communicative complexity
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/15935
Variation in communicative complexity has been conceptually and empirically attributed to social complexity, with animals living in more complex social environments exhibiting more signals and/or more complex signals than animals living in simpler social environments.As compelling as studies highlighting a link between social and communicative variables are, this hypothesis remains challenged by operational problems, contrasting results, and several weaknesses of the associated tests. Specifically, how to best operationalize social and communicative complexity remains debated; alternative hypotheses, such as the role of a species’ ecology, morphology, or phylogenetic history, have been neglected; and the actual ways in which variation in signaling is directly affected by social factors remain largely unexplored. In this review, we address these three issues and propose an extension of the Bsocial complexity hypothesis for communicative complexity^ that resolves and acknowledges the above factors.We specifically argue for integrating the inherently multimodal nature of communication into a more comprehensive framework and for acknowledging the social context of derived signals and the potential of audience effects. By doing so, we believe it will be possible to generate more accurate predictions about which specific social parameters may be responsible for selection on new or more complex signals, as well as to uncover potential adaptive functions that are not necessarily apparent from studying communication in only one modality.