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Sensory Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution$
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Martin Stevens

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199601776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601776.001.0001

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Sensory Systems: Trade-Offs, Costs, and Sensory Integration

Sensory Systems: Trade-Offs, Costs, and Sensory Integration

(p.55) Chapter 4 Sensory Systems: Trade-Offs, Costs, and Sensory Integration
Sensory Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution

Martin Stevens

Oxford University Press

Although sensory systems are crucial to survival and reproduction, they are not free but rather incur significant energetic costs. In addition, most sensory systems are used by animals in numerous tasks, each of which may require different features of sensory processing. This chapter introduces some of the costs and trade-offs associated with both having sensory systems and the way that they are constructed. It discusses if and when there are good examples of sensory systems being optimised for one task as opposed to having features that have evolved to work in many tasks. It also describes how sensory systems do not work in isolation. Animals integrate information from several modalities (sensory or multimodal integration) and combine this during processing. This decreases uncertainty about a stimulus and allows for more effective performance in tasks.

Keywords:   energetic costs, trade-offs, sensory processing, sensory integration, multimodal integration

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