Wolves howl because they care

Aug 22, 2013
When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn't a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. So say researchers based on a study of nine wolves from two packs living at Austria's Wolf Science Center that appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on Aug. 22. Credit: Mazzini et al.

When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn't a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. So say researchers based on a study of nine wolves from two packs living at Austria's Wolf Science Center that appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on August 22.

The findings shed important light on the degree to which animal vocal production can be considered as voluntary, the researchers say.

"Our results suggest the social relationship can explain more of the variation we see in howling behavior than the emotional state of the wolf," says Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna. "This suggests that wolves, to a certain extent, may be able to use their in a flexible way."

Scientists have known very little about why animals make the sounds that they do. Are they uncontrollable ? Or do animals have the ability to change those vocalizations based on their own understanding of the social context?

At the Wolf Science Center, human handlers typically take individual wolves out for walks on a leash, one at a time. On those occasions, they knew, the remaining pack mates always howl.

To better understand why, Range and her colleagues measured the wolves' stress hormone levels. They also collected information on the wolves' dominance status in the pack and their preferred partners. As they took individual wolves out for long walks, they recorded the reactions of each of their pack mates.

When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn't a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. So say researchers based on a study of nine wolves from two packs living at Austria's Wolf Science Center that appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on Aug. 22. Credit: Mazzini et al.

Those observations show that wolves howl more when a wolf they have a better relationship with leaves the group and when that individual is of high . The amount of howling did not correspond to higher levels of the .

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When a member of the wolf pack leaves the group, the howling by those left behind isn't a reflection of stress but of the quality of their relationships. So say researchers based on a study of nine wolves from two packs living at Austria's Wolf Science Center that appears in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on Aug. 22. Credit: Mazzini et al.

"Our data suggest that howling is not a simple to being separated from close associates but instead may be used more flexibly to maintain contact and perhaps to aid in reuniting with allies," Range says.

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More information: Current Biology, Mazzini et al.: "Wolf howling is mediated by relationship quality rather than underlying emotional stress." dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.066

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User comments : 13

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foolspoo
1.4 / 5 (11) Aug 22, 2013
one of dozens of reasons.... garbagio!
Gmr
3 / 5 (4) Aug 22, 2013
Signalling in this way among predators, for a start, would probably be intraspecies; a predator rarely has cause to signal much to other species besides "I'm dangerous" - and the lack of stress hormones reinforces the idea that its signalling in this case is not warning or distress.

Correlation to dominance status might be related to the remaining wolves trying to establish dominance - except again for the lack of a stress response, and howling not being associated with dominance displays.

So the remaining category appears to be intraspecies and intrapack signalling. Of what is the open question.
ChristineKMickelson
2.2 / 5 (9) Aug 22, 2013
I bet wolves howl for the same reason dogs bark at the wind. Because they like too.
Sinister1811
1.8 / 5 (4) Aug 23, 2013
Huh, I thought it had something to do with dominance and territory. Dingoes and coyotes probably howl for the same reasons. Neither of them bark like a domestic dog. Dogs sometimes howl but it's usually from sadness.
Captain Stumpy
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 23, 2013
wolves howl for a myriad of reasons. I think the article has some merit. my wolves love to howl when I leave, but they even more vocal when I return.
I always know what mood they are when they howl as well: from sad to happy, lonely or otherwise. when I leave, i can often track where i am in the woods without anything other than my ears. when i hear them howl (while i am away) i can sense mood, as well as locate home fairly accurately. it is also quite amazing that when my wolves howl, the coyote sounds disappear. (i never have coyote problems like others around me)
it is a versatile, multi-functional tool. i love to listen to them howl when i get home... while it contains some information about mood and social status, it also serves as warning (like to coyote populations around me). they also sometimes howl when they want to play...this is personal conjecture, as i am not a scientist... just personal observation.
Captain Stumpy
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 23, 2013
so... whose puppets are these three ?
open | toot | ThisGuyIsAMoron |

since they obviously know SO much about wolves, perhaps they would share this knowledge with us?
a personal experience perhaps? like what I shared?
perhaps you work in the field?
do you rescue wolves? rehabilitate wolves? train hybrids for movies?
please, share your secrets with us... we await your profound epiphanies!
I, for one, just cannot wait for your soliloquy to begin and for the knowledge to flow forth! please, enlighten us all with your experience!
hyperbole intended...
BAKOON
2.6 / 5 (8) Aug 23, 2013
Shut up Stumpy. Everyone with half a brain knows your are Obama_socks and half the sockpuppets on this site. No one believes you train wolves or work for NASA or any other BS you burden us with.

My Kenyan psychologist friend has diagnosed this jerk as a SCHIZOPHRENIC PSYCHOPATH with MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER. It is dangerous and should be put away or destroyed. Be careful to hide your identities because it has some knowledge of computers and will kill you if presented with the chance.
Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (9) Aug 24, 2013
Baboon -
i am not Obama_socks. i don't work for NASA.
i rescue wolves, rehab them, i don't train wolves. Wolves are wild animals and have a fairly regular pattern of behavior.
for some reason you seem to assume that i am Obama_socks... whatever. i do NOT have schizophrenia, or MPD.
and why would i hunt down some pathetic clown like you ? THAT seems to be pretty narcissistic. perhaps it is YOU that has some mental disorder?
. you are not even old enough to be annoyance yet.. give it time though... i see a bright future ahead of you working manual labor, chief Mcfry cook Baboon.
BAKOON
2.1 / 5 (7) Aug 24, 2013
i am not Obama_socks. i don't work for NASA.
Well one of those is true LOL.

Hmm, only Obama_socks has called me baboon. You aren't that bright tard.
Captain Stumpy
1.4 / 5 (10) Aug 24, 2013
yup... he called you baboon and i thought it was pretty appropriate. Mostly because you didnt understand what baka meant. maybe your half brain remark above is correct. you have half a brain.
you seem to think that everyone here is a puppet of someone. although you seem to be more a puppet than anyone else.
just like you probably think that all NASA employee's are engineers or astronauts. maybe scientists? if that is the case, then all people in the Air Force are pilots, by your reasoning? Hmm?
you are a troll. you are here posting only to cause tension and spew your own special brand of hare-brained stupidity.
BAKOON
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 24, 2013
you are a troll. you are here posting only to cause tension and spew your own special brand of hare-brained stupidity.
That's rich coming from you pussytard. I just think 'pussytard' is pretty appropriate.

just like you probably think that all NASA employee's are engineers or astronauts.
No but I think you depend on that when you try to deceive people. It's easier to pretend to be a firefighter on a website with several scientists and engineers. I think you figured that out when it became apparent that nobody believes Obama_socks (you) is taking business trips to Europe as an engineer for a NASA subcontractor.

You still feel a need to falsely associate yourself with NASA for some reason. Your long life of manual labor coupled with your SCHIZOPHRENIA have caused you to create an alternate reality where you are always the smartest person in the room because you never are. Now you create MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES so you can live vicariously through them. Hahaha.. LOL loser
Captain Stumpy
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 24, 2013
boy, you really are delusional.
I am not Obama-socks ... i am a retired firefighter. i don't pretend. i am. got the scars to prove it. i really did serve in the military. got the ghosts haunting me for it.
but i think that YOU are the one who has multiple personalities, and you are the one with multiple log-ins, living vicariously through lies. it is interesting that you would assign anyone whom you wish to deride into this category. why? is it closest to what you are experiencing? is it closest to who you really are? is that why you need to lash out and troll people? perhaps you are feeling so inadequate that you need to push others down to your level?
personally, don't CARE how smart you are, or think you are ... and i KNOW i am not the smartest person in the room. one reason i went back to college.
so... all this name calling is just proof positive you are a troll. you cannot argue intelligently, therefore you resort to derision and name calling.
it's fun for you. so go ahead!
Captain Stumpy
1.4 / 5 (9) Aug 24, 2013
one last thing, baka-baboon...
since you are only going to continue to spew your hate and delusion, i think i am just going to let you rant away. you are so in to your delusion that you really honestly feel that there are just about, what... 10 or so people on the site? the rest are puppets? like what you do? multiple log ins for your delusional life?
since it means so much to you, and you only get angry when people don't "play your game":by being a puppet; or by continuing to challenge your position, because they really are NOT who YOU say they are... since you really are disturbed, i leave you tour FANTASY.
I was tempted to share IFSAC/IAFF certifications, but then you would have WAY too much personal info... and i don't need psycho's around my house. it would be dangerous (for you, anyway).
enjoy your uber-troll life.
PEACE