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Leadership Behavior in Relation to Dominance and Reproductive Status in Gray Wolves, Canis lupus

Rolf O. Peterson, Amy K. Jacobs, Thomas D. Drummer, L. David Mech, and Douglas W. Smith


Abstract:  We analyzed the leadership behavior of breeding and nonbreeding gray wolves (Canis lupus) in three packs during winter in 1997-1999. Scent-marking, frontal leadership (time and frequency in the lead while traveling), initiation of activity, and nonfrontal leadership were recorded during 499 h of ground-based observations in Yellowstone National Park. All observed scent-marking (N = 158) was done by breeding wolves, primarily dominant individuals. Dominant breeding pairs provided most leadership, consistent with a trend in social mammals for leadership to correlate with dominance. Dominant breeding wolves led traveling packs during 64% of recorded behavior bouts (N = 591) and 71% of observed travel time (N = 64 h). During travel, breeding males and females led packs approximately equally, which probably reflects high parental investment by both breeding male and female wolves. Newly initiated behaviors (N = 104) were prompted almost 3 times more often by dominant breeders (70%) than by nonbreeders (25%). Dominant breeding females initiated pack activities almost 4 times more often than subordinate breeding females (30 vs. 8 times). Although one subordinate breeding female led more often than individual nonbreeders in one pack in one season, more commonly this was not the case. In 12 cases breeding wolves exhibited nonfrontal leadership. Among subordinate wolves, leadership behavior was observed in subordinate breeding females and other individuals just prior to their dispersal from natal packs. Subordinate wolves were more often found leading packs that were large and contained many subordinate adults.


This resource is based on the following resource (Northern Prairie Publication 1184):

Peterson, Rolf O., Amy K. Jacobs, Thomas D. Drummer, L. David Mech, and Douglas W. Smith.  2002.  Leadership behavior in relation to dominance and reproductive status in gray wolves, Canis lupus.  Canadian Journal of Zoology 80:1405-1412.

This resource should be cited as:

Peterson, Rolf O., Amy K. Jacobs, Thomas D. Drummer, L. David Mech, and Douglas W. Smith.  2002.  Leadership behavior in relation to dominance and reproductive status in gray wolves, Canis lupus.  Canadian Journal of Zoology 80:1405-1412.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/wolflead/index.htm  (Version 12AUG2004).


Table of Contents

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Center for Resources of Yellowstone National Park. We thank numerous field technicians who gathered data. Financial support was provided by the Yellowstone Foundation and Michigan Technological University.


Rolf O. Peterson, School of Forestry and Wood Products, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA.  Corresponding author (email: ropeters@mtu.edu).
Amy K. Jacobs, School of Forestry and Wood Products, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA.
Thomas D. Drummer, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA.
L. David Mech, U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, 8711 37th Street SE, Jamestown, ND 58401-7317, USA.  Present address: The Raptor Center, University of Minnesota, 1920 Fitch Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
Douglas W. Smith, Center for Resources, Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, USA.

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