Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 161–168 | Cite as

Wolf pack spacing: Howling as a territory-independent spacing mechanism in a territorial population

  • Fred H. Harrington
  • L. David Mech


Howling is a principle means of spacing in wolf populations. The relationship between a pack's responses to howling (replies, movements) and its location within its home range, was studied using human-simulated howling in a territorial population in northeastern Minnesota. The results indicated the responses were independent of the pack's location, or the locations of the pack and playback relation to the territory center. These results indicate that howling serves as a territory-independent spacing mechanism, that will result in the use of exclusive territories when coupled with strong, year-round site attachment, but with floating, exclusive, buffer-areas about migratory packs.


Home Range Site Attachment Wolf Population Principle Means Wolf Pack 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ballenberghe V Van, Erickson AW, Byman D (1975) Ecology of the timber wolf in northeastern Minnesota. Wildl Monogr 43: 1–43Google Scholar
  2. Brown JL (1964) The evolution of diversity in avian territorial systems. Wilson Bull 6: 160–169Google Scholar
  3. Fritts SH, Mech LD (1981) Dynamics, movements, and feeding ecology of a newly protected wolf population in northwestern Minnesota. Wildl Monogr 80: 1–79Google Scholar
  4. Haber GC (1977) Socio-ecological dynamics of wolves and prey in a subarctic ecosystem. PhD dissertation, University of British Columbia, VancouverGoogle Scholar
  5. Harrington FH (1975) Response parameters of elicited wolf howling. PhD Dissertation. State University of New York, Stony BrookGoogle Scholar
  6. Harrington FH (1981) Urine-marking and caching behavior in the wolf. Behaviour 76: 280–288Google Scholar
  7. Harrington FH, Mech LD (1979) Wolf howling and its role in territorial maintenance. Behaviour 68: 207–249Google Scholar
  8. Harrington FH, Mech LD (1982a) An analysis of howling response parameters useful for wolf pack censusing. J Wildl Manage 46: 686–693Google Scholar
  9. Harrington FH, Mech LD (1982b) Fall and winter homesite use in two Minnesota wolf packs. Can Field-Natur 96: 79–84Google Scholar
  10. Harrington FH, Mech LD (1982c) Patterns of homesite use in two Minnesota wolf packs. In: Harrington FH, Paquet PC (eds) Wolves of the world: Perspectives of behavior, ecology, and conservation. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge (New Jersey), pp 81–105Google Scholar
  11. Henshaw RE, Stephenson RO (1974) Homing in the gray wolf (Canis lupus). J Mammal 55: 234–237Google Scholar
  12. Hinde RA (1956) The biologiycal significance of the territories of birds. Ibis 98: 340–369Google Scholar
  13. Joslin PWB (1967) Movements and homesites of timber wolves in Algonquin Park. Am Zool 7: 279–288Google Scholar
  14. Marler P (1972) Vocalizations of East African monkeys. II. Black and white colobus. Behaviour 42: 175–196Google Scholar
  15. Mech LD (1970) The wolf: the ecology and behavior of an endangered species. Doubleday, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Mech LD (1973) Wolf numbers in the Superior National Forest of Minnesota. USDA For Serv Res Pap NC-97, St. Paul (Minnesota), pp 1–10Google Scholar
  17. Mech LD (1974) Current techniques in the study of elusive wilderness carnivores. Proc XIth Int Congr Game Biol 11: 315–322Google Scholar
  18. Mech LD (1977a) Population trend and winter deer consumption in a Minnesota wolf pack. In: Phillips J, Jonkel C (eds) Proceedings of the 1975 predator symposium. University of Montana. Missoula, pp 55–83Google Scholar
  19. Mech LD (1977b) Productivity, mortality, and population trend of wolves in northeastern Minnesota. J Mammal 58: 559–574Google Scholar
  20. Mech LD (1977c) Wolf pack buffer zones as prey reservoirs. Science 198: 320–321Google Scholar
  21. Mech LD (1980) Making the most of radio-tracking—a summary of wolf studies in northeastern Minnesota. In: Amlaner CJ, Macdonald DW (eds) A handbook on biotelemetry and radio tracking. Pergamon Press, Oxford, pp 85–92Google Scholar
  22. Mech LD, Karns PD (1977) Role of the wolf in a deer decline in the Superior National Forest. USDA For Serv Res Pap NC-148, St. Paul (Minnesota), pp 1–23Google Scholar
  23. Murie A (1944) The wolves of Mount McKinley, US Nat Park Serv Fauna Ser 5, Washington, DC, pp 1–238Google Scholar
  24. Parker GR (1973) Distribution and densities of wolves within barren-ground caribou range in northern mainland Canada. J Mammal 54: 341–348Google Scholar
  25. Peters RP, Mech LD (1975) Scent-marking in wolves. Am Sci 63: 628–637Google Scholar
  26. Pimlott DH (1960) The use of tape-recorded wolf howls to locate timber wolves. 22nd Midwest Wildl Congr, pp 1–15 (mimeo)Google Scholar
  27. Stephenson RO, James D (1982) Wolf movements and food habits in northwest Alaska. In: Harrington FH, Paquet PC (eds) Wolves of the world: Perspectives of behavior, ecology, and conservation. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge (New Jersey), pp 26–42Google Scholar
  28. Theberge JB, Falls JB (1967) Howling as a means of communication in timber wolves. Am Zool 7: 331–338Google Scholar
  29. Voigt DR (1973) Summer food habits and movements of wolves (Canis lupus L.) in central Ontario. MS thesis, University of GuelphGoogle Scholar
  30. Waser PM (1975) Experimental playbacks show vocal mediation of avoidance in a forest monkey. Nature 255: 56–58Google Scholar
  31. Waser PM (1977) Individual recognition, intragroup cohesion, and intergroup spacing: evidence from sound playback to forest monkeys. Behaviour 60: 28–73Google Scholar
  32. Waser PM, Wiley RH (1979) Mechanisms and evolution of spacing in animals. In: Marler P, Vandenbergh JG (eds) Handbook of behavioral neurobiology, vol 3. Plenum, New York, pp 159–223Google Scholar
  33. Weise TF, Robinson WL, Hook RA, Mech LD (1975) An experimental translocation of the eastern timber wolf. Audubon Cons Rept 5: 1–28Google Scholar
  34. Wiley RH (1973) Territoriality and non-random mating in sage greuse Centrocercus urophasianus. Anim Behav Monogr 6: 85–169Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred H. Harrington
    • 1
  • L. David Mech
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesState University of New YorkStony BrookUSA
  2. 2.Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterUS Fish and Wildlife ServiceLaurelUSA

Personalised recommendations