A discipline within the field of animal behavior that focuses upon the reception and use of signals. Animal communication could well include all of animal behavior, since a liberal definition of the term signal could include all stimuli perceived by an animal. However, most research in animal communication deals only with those cases in which a signal, defined as a structured stimulus generated by one member of a species, is subsequently used by and influences the behavior of another member of the same species in a predictable way (intraspecific communication). In this context, communication occurs in virtually all animal species.
The field of animal communication includes an analysis of the physical characteristics of those signals believed to be responsible in any given case of information transfer. A large part of this interest is due to technological improvements in signal detection, coupled with analysis of the signals obtained with such devices.
Information transmission between two individuals can pass in four channels: acoustic, visual, chemical, and electrical. An individual animal may require information from two or more channels simultaneously before responding appropriately to reception of a signal. Furthermore, a stimulus may evoke a response under one circumstance but be ignored in a different context.