Post-conflict affiliative interactions have been widely investigated in primates but not extensively in other species. Using the Post Conflict-Matched Control (PC-MC) comparison method, this study investigated the patterns of post-conflict opponent affiliation (POA) of a captive family group of 19 arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos), investigating the correlation with various factors. We found that POAs occurred mainly in the non-feeding context and more often when the victim was dominant and the aggressor subordinate. Furthermore, POAs were more likely to have been initiated by the victim than the aggressor. Victims’ stress related behaviours occurred more in PC than MC periods, and more after high vs. low intensity aggressions but they were not more likely to occur after conflicts between wolves with a stronger social bond and POAs did not reduce their rate of occurrence. Our results showed that re-aggression was twice less frequent when a friendly interaction occurred between the aggressor and the victim, and consistent with this, victims engaged in POAs more often than the aggressor. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that POAs in wolves may have been selected for as a mechanism to avoid conflict escalation, which could lead to social disruption and hence jeopardize cooperative activities. The high relatedness among individuals in the pack and the greater dependence of all members on cooperation in breeding and hunting may reduce the importance of ‘relationship quality’ as a mediating factor of POAs, although dominance relationships, which are directly linked to the risks of further conflicts, do play an important role.
Lazzaroni, M., Marshall-Pescini, S., & Cafazzo, S. (2017). Post-conflict opponent affiliation reduces victim re-aggression in a family group of captive arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos). PLoS ONE, 12(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187450