The Nature Of Inter- and Intraspecies Communication

Interspecies communication is the interchange or transmission of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs from members of one species to members of another species. Intraspecies communication is the interchange or transmission of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs from one member of a species to another member of the same species.

These definitions of inter- and intraspecies communication raise questions such as:

  • What is the meaning of communication among and between species?
  • What is the nature of communication between life forms?
  • What forms of inter- or intraspecies artistic communication take place between species and how do they take place?
  • Which non-human animals or plants of a given species communicate with their own species? How, what, and why do they communicate?
  • Which non-human animals or plants, if any, communicate with other species? How, what, and why do they communicate?

The Varied Nature Of Interspecies And Intraspecies Communication

Communications between and among animal or plant species can take many forms, ranging from communication by means of spoken or written symbolic language (consisting of words or symbols) to information communicated by bodily movements, odors, chemicals, contact, or other means.

In this context, information is defined as knowledge sent or received concerning a particular fact, circumstance, or situation. Knowledge is an acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, gained from study or investigation; or it may be general erudition, conversance, acquaintance, or familiarity gained by sight, experience, report, or perception. At its most basic, knowledge may be simple conscious or unconscious awareness of sensory stimuli gained by an organism from a transmitter that is near or far away.

Understood in this way, communication spans an enormous range of physical media, communications apparatus, complexity, environment, organisms, species, and degrees of consciousness, from bacteria or plants talking to bacteria or plants of the same or different species to elephants talking to elephants or lions.

For the most part, people are accustomed to thinking of interspecies communication as taking place between people and higher animals of another species, such as dogs and cats; they think of intraspecies communication as taking place between people or between one higher animal and another of the same species.

What are the means by which higher animals communicate? Humans write, speak, and listen to one another. they gesture, use body language or facial expressions, even sing, grunt, roll their eyes, or emit odors. People relate to more intelligent animals like dogs or cats mainly by means of spoken words, sounds, tones, and gestures. Dogs and cats seem to understand human speech, sounds, movement, intentions, and facial expressions, even though they aren’t able to speak themselves. More scientific research may well establish that certain mammals of the sea, such as dolphins and whales, are capable of articulate communication with humans by means of speech, symbolic gesture, or body language.


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