Behavior Genetics

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 810–829 | Cite as

A Longitudinal Study of the Sociosexual Dynamics in a Captive Family Group of Wolves: The University of Connecticut Wolf Project

Original Research

Abstract

An interest in the role of the social environment on the evolution of behavior led Professor Benson Ginsburg to studies of wolf social behavior. He initiated the University of Connecticut wolf project with a family group of wolves housed in a protected enclosure in an isolated area of campus. One aim of this project was to conduct a longitudinal study of a family group of wolves in order to understand the proximate behavioral mechanisms underlying mating dynamics with a degree of control and opportunistic observation that could not be achieved through field studies. The development of social relationships and the dynamics of mating were observed for 9 years. As in nature, agonistic relationships strongly influenced reproductive success, successful breeding was limited to a single pair each season, and the behavioral dynamics included status transitions with breeder rotations. Our work, when combined with the results of other captive wolf studies, has contributed valuable information to the general understanding of wolf social behavior, especially regarding the proximate behavior patterns underlying group social interactions and reproduction. This understanding has broadened perspectives on the dynamic interplay between social behavior and evolutionary processes.

Keywords

Wolves Social behavior Dominance Subordination Mating Coalitions 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Biology and PsychologyThe Sage CollegesTroyUSA

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