Animal communication abounds with extravagant displays. These signals are usually interpreted as costly signals of quality. However, there is another important function for these signals: to call the attention of the receiver to the signaller. While there is abundant empirical evidence to show the importance of this stage, it is not yet incorporated into standard signalling theory. Here I investigate a general model of signalling - based on a basic action-response game - that incorporates this searching stage. I show that giving attention-seeking displays and searching for them can be an ESS. This is a very general result and holds regardless whether only the high quality signallers or both high and low types give them. These signals need not be costly at the equilibrium and they need not be honest signals of any quality, as their function is not to signal quality but simply to call the attention of the potential receivers. These kind of displays are probably more common than their current weight in the literature would suggest.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)