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Maynard Smith: amplifying the reasons for signal reliability

Maynard Smith: amplifying the reasons for signal reliability

Journal of Theoretical Biology 239(2): 203-209

One of the many questions to which John Maynard Smith contributed was that of why most animal signals are reliable. He initially rejected the "handicap" argument but gradually accepted it, a process I briefly describe. This episode illustrated his preference for mathematical models over verbal ones, and the generosity with which he could change his mind. Even after accepting that some signals are reliable because of their strategic costs, he argued for a pluralistic approach to signal reliability. Signal complexity was a developing interest when he died. Signals usually involve several components, some of which appear to amplify other signal components. The terms "amplifier" and "index" require more thought to reduce the scope for semantic confusion. I conclude by describing Maynard Smith's fascination with peacocks Pavo cristatus.

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Accession: 023011575

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 16225891

DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2005.08.034

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