I can imagine 3 different kinds of communication between individuals:
- Communication between individuals of the same species.
- Communication between an individual and another from a different species.
- Communication between an individual and the same individual at a different time, i. e. some individual "taking notes" or "marks" for later use.
My question is whether there are animals showing (3) but not (1) or (2).
In order to make sure the absence of (1) I stipulate that the individual animal should be capable to live a completely solitary life, which excludes e. g. all mammals from the list of candidates.
Here, the criteria for "communication" are the following:
The message is created by a defined action of the animal.
The message is an object, separate from the animal's body.
The animal is able to interpret the message at a later time, i. e. removal or modification of the message artifact would result in a different behavior.
This question is motivated by the more general question whether the ability to communicate necessitates a social context.
EDIT: In order to make it clearer what communication could be, as suggested by the comments, here are a few examples:
- territory marking: matches the categories (1), as a signal to rivals and probably (3), as a reminder for the territory owner.
- alarm call: matches (1) and/or (2)
- behaviour of the Honeyguides: a typical example of (2)
- creation of trails: may have a communicative function (e. g. for ants), and is also seen with solitary animals. Is there a case, where the communicative function is predominant and all other criteria are met?
Here is why I think that some classes of species can be excluded:
- mammals, birds: every individual enjoys parental care, which has a communicative aspect of type (1)
- plants: may be able to communicate with other plants or animals, but self-communication seems hard to imagine.