Integrating social ecology in explanations of wolf–dog behavioral differences

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Abstract

Whereas studies in comparative cognition normally invoke ecology and social organization to account for differences in social behaviour and cognition across species, dog–wolf differences have so far been explained mostly as a result of direct human selection for desirable traits (e.g., tameness, attention to humans, sociability). Yet, as will be reviewed in this paper, dogs and wolves also differ considerably in both their feeding niche and social organization (which together we refer to as ‘social ecology’). We suggest that observed wolf–dog differences especially in their interaction with the environment (e.g., neophobia, persistence, risk taking) and conspecifics (e.g., tolerance, cooperation, communication) need to be considered also in regard to their social ecology. We propose that social ecology alongside human selection should be recognized as a potentially important factor affecting dogs’ behaviour, and suggest a number of potential avenues for future research, which can more directly test the relative importance of these selection forces.

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Marshall-Pescini, S., Cafazzo, S., Virányi, Z., & Range, F. (2017, August 1). Integrating social ecology in explanations of wolf–dog behavioral differences. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.05.002

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