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"Standing Over" and "Hugging" in Wild Wolves, Canis lupus

Results


During eight summers from 1988-1998 (excluding 1989 and 1995) I observed SO 35 times during six of those summers (Table 1). During the same period, I saw dominance interactions 217 times (Mech 1999). SO took place among all yearling and older Wolves in both the standing and recumbent positions for 1-180 seconds (mean of X = 69 ± 46 S.D.; N = 16), although not in all possible combinations (Table 1). In 14% of the observations, the lying Wolf sniffed at the groin or genitals of the standing Wolf.

Table 1.  Distribution of 35 observations of "Standing Over" amongst various dyads of Ellesmere Island Wolves during summer. (BM = breeding male; BF = breeding female; YF = young1 female; YM = young1 male; PF = post-reproductive female.)
Year BM
BF
BM
YF
BM
YM
BF
BM
BF
YF
BF
YM
YM
BF
YM
YF
YM
BM
YF
BM
YF
BF
YF
YM
BF
PF
PF
BF
PF
BM
BM
PF
1988 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 - - - -
1990 0 - - 2 - - - - - - - - 9 2 1 0
1991 0 - - 2 - - - - - - - - 2 2 1 1
1992 0 - - 2 - - - - - - - - - - - -
19941 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 - - - -
1996 0 - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Observed 0.00 0.00 1.00 8.00 3.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 2.00 1.00 0.00 11.00 4.00 2.00 1.00
Expected2 5.25 1.75 1.75 5.25 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75 1.75
1 In 1988, the YF and YM roles were yearlings; in 1994, 2-year olds.
2 Expected if interactions were proportional to opportunities based on years present.

The most intensive SO I ever observed was at 1647 hours on 2 July 1990, when the new breeding female (three-year-old "Whitey") stood over her post-reproductive mother ("Mom", for 3 minutes: My field notes taken at the time state: "When Mom moved her nose to one side or the other of Whitey's groin, Whitey would move her groin over Mom's nose. Mom appeared nonchalant and disinterested, although she did sniff both the inside and outside of Whitey's legs casually. Whitey remained intent and stiff-legged and persistent throughout the display."

Standing over appeared to be primarily female-oriented, with the post-reproductive female involved most often. The active Wolf was most often the breeding female. The post-reproductive female was the active Wolf next most often and was the recumbent Wolf most often. It also seems important that during the first year (1990) that a three-year-old daughter replaced her mother as breeder (Mech 1995), the daughter stood over the mother the most often of all possible dyads in all years (Table 1). I observed hugging five times, four of which were in 1990 (Table 2). All possible dyads of the breeding male, breeding female and post-reproductive female engaged in hugging.

Table 2.  Description of "hugging" in members of the Ellesmere Island Wolf pack.
Date Description
30 June 1990 Breeding male and post-reproductive female lie on side chest-to-chest, and each puts front legs over the other
14 July 1990 Post-reproductive female hugs breeding daughter from behind 3 times, sitting, chest to back but rumps were side-by-side
14 July 1990 Breeding female and breeding male lie down facing each other and put legs over each other's shoulders and nuzzle each other
17 July 1990 Breeding female and breeding male face each other lying down and female puts legs around male's neck
9 July 1992 Breeding female lies with breeding male and places both legs around his neck, but he jumps up


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