Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Friday 19 May 2017

Integrating social ecology in explanations of wolf–dog behavioral differences

Marshall-Pescini, S., Cafazzo, S., Virányi, Z., & Range, F. (2017). Integrating social ecology in explanations of wolf–dog behavioral differences. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 16, 80-86.

• Wolf–dog differences have been explained as a result of human selection for desirable behaviours.
• But wolves and dogs also have different feeding ecologies and social organizations.
• Wolves rely on pack members for group hunting and pup-rearing.
• Dogs mostly forage alone on human refuse and show little allomaternal care.
• Social ecology helps explain observed wolf–dog differences in comparative studies.

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.

Changes in the feeding ecology and social organization from wolves to dogs and how these may affect their behaviour towards conspecifics and the environment.

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