The extended phenotype within the colony and how it obscures social communication

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

13 Scopus citations


Societies of social insects are paragons of communication. Multiple channels exist between different members and the transmitted information ranges from specifying the location of foraging areas to who controls reproduction. Whole colonies can also communicate with other colonies or even vertebrates. But what if the individuals within a society are not, in a word, themselves? This chapter explores how adaptive manipulation of host behaviour by parasites, i.e., the extended phenotype of parasites obscures social communication, and it asks how it influences other members of the society. Since manipulated kin are at best cheaters and at worst potential infective agents can the society recognise them? Knowing how a highly complicated example of social communication is broken or subverted by parasites can provide considerable insight into the evolution of communication. The chapter discusses conflict and communication in this system in the context of the debate over the nature of the organism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSociobiology of Communication
Subtitle of host publicationAn Interdisciplinary Perspective
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191712043
ISBN (Print)9780199216840
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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