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Dogs (Canis familiaris) and wolves (Canis lupus) coordinate with conspecifics in a social dilemma

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Bräuer,  Juliane
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Bräuer, J., Stenglein, K., & Amici, F. (2019). Dogs (Canis familiaris) and wolves (Canis lupus) coordinate with conspecifics in a social dilemma. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 208. doi:10.1037/com0000208.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-6D2A-3
Abstract
Cooperative hunting is generally considered to be a cognitively challenging activity, as individuals have to coordinate movements along with a partner and at the same time react to the prey. Wolves are said to engage in cooperative hunting regularly, whereas dogs could have maintained, improved, or reduced their cooperative skills during the domestication process. We compared the performance of individuals from two wolf packs and two dog groups with similar gender and rank structure. Members of these groups were tested in dyads with a problem-solving paradigm that involved aspects of a hunting-like situation. Subjects needed to coordinate their actions in order to get food. They were confronted with a social dilemma, in which an individual benefit from being selfish, unless the partner also chooses the selfish alternative, in which case the whole dyad loses. In the task, one partner was required to draw a barrier toward it by rushing forward, allowing the other partner to access the food, at which point both partners were allowed to access the food. Most dyads could solve the problem, with significant variation in their performance but no differences between species. However, the probability of taking the risk in a dyad depended on the species and rank of the individual and on cofeeding in the dyad. The results of this study show that wolves do not always outperform dogs when coordinating their actions, but that the cooperative behavior of Canis depends on many factors, including rank, type of task, and tolerance within the dyad.