Books  Ecological & Biological Sciences  Animal & General Biology  Animals: Behaviour 

Noise Matters: The Evolution of Communication

By: R Haven Wiley(Author)

502 pages, 17 b/w photos, 30 b/w illustrations, 1 table

Harvard University Press

Hardback | Jul 2015 | #221725 | ISBN-13: 9780674744127
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £36.95 $47/€41 approx

About this book

Noise, as we usually think of it, is background sound that interferes with our ability to hear more interesting sounds. In general terms, though, it is anything that interferes with the reception of signals of any sort. It includes extraneous energy in the environment, degradation of signals in transit, and spontaneous random activity in receivers and signalers. Whatever the cause, the consequence of noise is error by receivers, and these errors are the key to understanding how noise shapes the evolution of communication. Noise Matters breaks new ground in the scientific understanding of how communication evolves in the presence of noise. Combining insights of signal detection theory with evidence from decades of his own original research, Haven Wiley explains the profound effects of noise on the evolution of communication.

The coevolution of signalers and receivers does not result in ideal, noise-free communication, Wiley finds. Instead, signalers and receivers evolve to a joint equilibrium in which communication is effective but never error-free. Noise is inescapable in the evolution of communication. Wiley's comprehensive approach considers communication on many different levels of biological organization, from cells to individual organisms, including humans. Social interactions, such as honesty, mate choice, and cooperation, are reassessed in the light of noisy communication. The final sections demonstrate that noise even affects how we think about human language, science, subjectivity, and freedom. Noise Matters thus contributes to understanding the behavior of animals, including ourselves.

 "Haven Wiley gives a superb overview of how communication has evolved."
– Hansjoerg Kunc, School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University Belfast

Related titles

Recommended Reading

Calls Beyond Our Hearing

Calls Beyond Our Hearing is a fascinating exploration of animals, their...

NHBS Price: £17.99 $23/€20 approx

The Great Animal Orchestra

Bernie Krause is the world's leading expert in natural sound. He has...

NHBS Price: £9.99 $13/€11 approx

Bug Music

In the spring of 2013 the cicadas will return on their seventeen year cycle...

NHBS Price: £10.99 $14/€12 approx

Sonic Wonderland

An original and compelling tour of the world's most amazing acoustic...

NHBS Price: £19.99 $25/€22 approx


    List of Figuresa
    I. Noise and Ways to Reduce It
        1. Noise and Signals Introduced
        2. Producing Acoustic Signals in Noise
        3. Receiving Acoustic Signals in Noise
        4. Transmission of Acoustic Signals
        5. Adaptations to Noise in Different Environments
        6. Reducing Noise, Enhancing Performance
    II. Evolution of Signalers and Receivers
        7. Signals, Receivers, and Evolution
        8. Optimal Receivers and Signalers
        9. Payoffs for Participants
        10. Joint Optima for Signalers and Receivers
        11. Evaluation and Extension of the Model
    III. Altered Perspectives
        12. Honesty in Communication
        13. Sexual Selection as Communication
        14. Cooperation by Communication
        15. Complex Societies
        16. Molecular Signals
    IV. Far Horizons
        17. Human Communication
        18. Truth in Language
        19. Subjectivity
        20. Verification
    Bibliographic and Other Notes

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this book. Be the first to review this book!


R. Haven Wiley is Professor of Biology and Ecology, Emeritus, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bestsellers in this subject

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

NHBS Price: £9.99 $13/€11 approx

Animal Personalities

NHBS Price: £38.99 $50/€44 approx

Field and Laboratory Methods in Animal Cognition

NHBS Price: £39.99 $51/€45 approx

The Runaway Species

NHBS Price: £14.99 $19/€17 approx

Mammal Societies

Clearance price: £29.24 £44.99 (Save £15.75) $37/€33 approx

VAT: GB 407 4846 44
NHBS Ltd is registered in England and Wales: 1875194