Wissenschaftliche Publikationen des WSC

  • Do pet dogs (Canis familiaris) follow ostensive and non-ostensive human gaze to distant space and to objects?

    Duranton C, Range F, Virányi Z. 2017 Do pet dogs (Canis familiaris) follow ostensive and non-ostensive human gaze to distant space and to objects?. R. Soc. open sci. 4: 170349.

    Dogs are renowned for being skilful at using humangiven communicative cues such as pointing. Results are contradictory, however, when it comes to dogs’ following human gaze, probably due to methodological discrepancies. Here we investigated whether dogs follow human gaze to one of two food locations better than into distant space even after comparable pre-training.

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  • Domestication Does Not Explain the Presence of Inequity Aversion in Dogs

    Essler J, Marshall-Pescini S, Range F. 2017 Domestication Does Not Explain the Presence of Inequity Aversion in Dogs. ‎Curr. Biol. 27: 1861–1865.

    Essler et al. show that as pack-living dogs and wolves react similarly to unequal outcomes, this response was not a trait that dogs evolved over the course of domestication. Their results support the hypothesis that inequity aversion is closely linked to the evolution of cooperation.

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  • Importance of a species’ socioecology: Wolves outperform dogs in a conspecific cooperation task

    Sarah Marshall-Pescini, Jonas F. L. Schwarz, Inga Kostelnik, Zsófia Virányi, and Friederike Range Importance of a species’ socioecology: Wolves outperform dogs in a conspecific cooperation task PNAS 2017 : 1709027114v1-201709027.

  • The influence of social relationship on food tolerance in wolves and dogs

    Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2017) 71:107 DOI 10.1007/s00265-017-2339-8

    Food sharing is relatively widespread across the animal kingdom, but research into the socio-ecological factors affecting this activity has predominantly focused on primates. These studies do suggest though that food tolerance is linked to the social relationship with potential partners. Therefore, the current study aimed to assess the social factors which influence food tolerance in two canids: wolves and dogs. 

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  • Socialized wolves’ relationship with humans is a much debated, but important question in light of dog domestication. To explore wolf–human relationship, we analysed behaviours of hand reared, extensively socialized wolves towards four visitor types: fosterparents, close acquaintances, persons met once before, and complete strangers during a greeting episode.

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  • 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. Yet, as will be reviewed in this paper, dogs and wolves also differ considerably in both their feeding niche and social organization.

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  • The role of domestication and experience in ‘looking back’ towards humans in an unsolvable task

    Marshall-Pescini, S. et al. The role of domestication and experience in ‘looking back’ towards humans in an unsolvable task. Sci. Rep. 7, 46636; doi: 10.1038/srep46636 (2017).

    A key element thought to have changed during domestication is dogs’ propensity to communicate with humans, particularly their inclination to gaze at them. A classic test to measure this is the ‘unsolvable task’, where after repeated successes in obtaining a reward by object-manipulation, the animal is confronted with an unsolvable version of the task. ‘Looking back’ at humans has been considered an expression of dogs seeking help.

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  • Motivational Factors Underlying Problem Solving: Comparing Wolf and Dog Puppies’ Explorative and Neophobic Behaviors at 5, 6, and 8 Weeks of Age

    Marshall-Pescini S, Virányi Z, Kubinyi E and Range F (2017) Motivational Factors Underlying Problem Solving: Comparing Wolf and Dog Puppies’ Explorative and Neophobic Behaviors at 5, 6, and 8 Weeks of Age. Front. Psychol. 8:180. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00180

    Wolves have been shown to be better in independent problem-solving tasks than dogs, however it is unclear whether cognitive or motivational factors underlie such differences. In a number of species problem solving has been linked to both persistence in exploration and neophobia, suggesting both these aspects may underlie dog-wolf differences in problem solving.

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  • Task Differences and Prosociality; Investigating Pet Dogs' Prosocial Preferences in a Token Choice Paradigm

    Dale R, Quervel-Chaumette M, Huber L, Range F, Marshall-Pescini S (2016) Task Differences and Prosociality; Investigating Pet Dogs' Prosocial Preferences in a Token Choice Paradigm. PLoS ONE 11(12): e0167750. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0167750

    Prosociality has received increasing interest by non-human animal researchers since the initial discoveries that suggested it is not a uniquely human trait. However, thus far studies, even within the same species, have not garnered conclusive results. A prominent suggestion for this disparity is the effect methodology can have on prosocial responses in animals. We recently found evidence of prosociality in domestic dogs towards familiar conspecifics using a bar-pulling paradigm, in which a subject could pull a rope to deliver food to its partner.

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  • While food sharing among related individuals can be explained by kin selection, food sharing between unrelated individuals has been more of an evolutionary puzzle. The food-for-sex hypothesis provides an explanation for the occurrence of food sharing among none-kin. However, little is known about the socio-ecological factors that can promote such a commodity exchange.

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  • Both human and nonhuman primates use imperative pointing to request a desired object from another individual. Gaze alternation often accompanies such pointing gestures, and in species that have no hands this can in itself function as imperative pointing. Dogs have exceptional skills in communicating with humans. The early development of these skills is suggested to have been facilitated by domestication. Adult wolves socialized with humans can use human-provided information to find food in various situations, but it is unclear whether they would use gaze alternation to show their human partner a target location they cannot reach on their own. 

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  • Training Reduces Stress in Human-Socialised Wolves to the Same Degree as in Dogs

    Vasconcellos AdS, Virányi Z, Range F, Ades C, Scheidegger JK, Möstl E, et al. (2016) Training Reduces Stress in Human-Socialised Wolves to the Same Degree as in Dogs. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162389. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162389

    The welfare of animals in captivity is of considerable societal concern. A major source of stress, especially for wild animals, is the lack of control over their environment. Here, we investigated the behavioural and physiological effects of the increasingly used practice of training wild animals as a way to facilitate handling and/or as behavioural enrichment. 

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  • Exploring Differences in Dogs’ and Wolves’ Preference for Risk in a Foraging Task

    Marshall-Pescini S, Besserdich I, Kratz C and Range F (2016) Exploring Differences in Dogs’ and Wolves’ Preference for Risk in a Foraging Task. Front. Psychol. 7:1241. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01241

    Both human and non-humans species face decisions in their daily lives which may entail taking risks. At the individual level, a propensity for risk-taking has been shown to be positively correlated with explorative tendencies, whereas, at the species level a more variable and less stable feeding ecology has been associated with a greater preference for risky choices. 

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  • Play Behavior in Wolves: Using the '50: 50'Rule to Test for Egalitarian Play Styles

    Essler, J. L., Cafazzo, S., Marshall-Pescini, S., Virányi, Z., Kotrschal, K., & Range, F. (2016). Play Behavior in Wolves: Using the ‘50: 50’Rule to Test for Egalitarian Play Styles. PLOS ONE, 11(5), e0154150.

    Social play is known as a cooperative interaction between individuals involving multiple
    mechanisms. However, the extent to which the equality of individuals’ play styles affects the
    interaction has not been studied in many species. Dyadic play between wolf puppies, as
    well as between puppies and adults, was studied to investigate both self-handicapping and
    offensive behaviors to determine the extent to which wolves engage in play styles where
    one individual does not dominate the play.

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  • Myth of tolerant dogs and aggressive wolves refuted

    Range, Ritter & Virányi (2015) Testing the myth: tolerant dogs and aggressive wolves. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.022.

    Dogs are regarded as more tolerant and less aggressive compared to their ancestors, the wolves. Researchers from the Messerli Research Institute of the Vetmeduni Vienna and from the Wolf Science Center questioned this image. They showed in a recent study that wolves interact with conspecifics in an even more tolerant way than dogs, suggesting that dogs have a steeper dominance hierarchy than wolves. The results will be published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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  • Do dogs have better self-control than wolves?

    Marshall-Pescini, S./ Virányi, Z./ Range, F.(2015): The effect of domestication on inhibitory control: wolves and dogs compared. Plos One. 2015; 10(2):e0118469

    Marshall-Pescini, S./ Virányi, Z./ Range, F.(2015): The effect of domestication on inhibitory control: wolves and dogs compared. Plos One. 2015; 10(2):e0118469

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  • The influence of relationships on neophobia and exploration in wolves and dogs

    Moretti, L., Hentrup, M., Kotrschal, K., & Range, F. (2015). The influence of relationships on neophobia and exploration in wolves and dogs. Animal Behaviour, 107, 159-173.

    Moretti, L., Hentrup, M., Kotrschal, K., & Range, F. (2015). The influence of relationships on neophobia and exploration in wolves and dogs. Animal Behaviour, 107, 159-173.
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  • Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: the "Canine Cooperation Hypothesis"

    Range and Viranyi (2015): Tracking the evolutionary origins of dog-human cooperation: the "Canine Cooperation Hypothesis". Frontiers in Psychology, 5 , 1-10.

    By investigating attentiveness toward humans and conspecifics in dogs and wolves, Zsofia Viranyi and Friederike Range postulate the Canine Cooperation Hypothesis which suggests that wolves show high social attentiveness and tolerance and are highly cooperative. This hypothesis is in contrast with most domestication hypotheses about wolves. 

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  • Social Stress in Wolves

    Book chapter in: "Wolves: Biology, Behavior and Conservation" (ed by Ana Paula Maia & Henrique F. Crussi)

    Vasconcellos, A.d.S., Ades, C. & Kotrschal, K. (2012): Social Stress in Wolves. In "Wolves: Biology, Behavior and Conservation". Ed by Ana Paula Maia and Henrique F. Crussi. ISBN: 978-1-62100-916-0. NY: Nova Science Publishers (Animal Science, Issues and Professions)

  • Wolves (Canis lupus) and Dogs (Canis familiaris) Differ in Following Human Gaze Into Distant Space But Respond Similar to Their Packmates’ Gaze

    Werhahn, G., Virányi, Z., Barrera, G., Sommese, A., & Range, F. (2016, May 30). Wolves (Canis lupus) and Dogs (Canis familiaris) Differ in Following Human Gaze Into Distant Space But Respond Similar to Their Packmates’ Gaze. Journal of Comparative Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/com0000036

    Gaze following into distant space is defined as visual co-orientation with another individual’s head direction allowing the gaze follower to gain information on its environment. Human and nonhuman animals share this basic gaze following behavior, suggested to rely on a simple reflexive mechanism and believed to be an important prerequisite for complex forms of social cognition. Pet dogs differ from other species in that they follow only communicative human gaze clearly addressed to them. However, in an earlier experiment we showed that wolves follow human gaze into distant space. Here we set out to investigate whether domestication has affected gaze following in dogs by comparing pack-living dogs and wolves raised and kept under the same conditions.

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  • The evolution of self-control

    MacLean et al. (2014) The evolution of self-control. PNAS, 111 (20): E2140-E2148, doi: 10.1073/pnas.13235333111

  • Wolves are better imitators of conspecifics than dogs

    Range, F., Virányi, Z. (2014) Wolves are better imitators of conspecifics than dogs. PLoS ONE 9 (1): e86559. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086559

  • Social learning from humans or conspecifics: differences and similarities between wolves and dogs

    Range, F., Virányi, Zs. (2013) Social learning from humans or conspecifics: differences and similarities between wolves and dogs. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 1-10.

  • Wolf howling is mediated by relationship quality rather than underlying emotional stress

    Mazzini, F., Townsend, S. W., Viranyi, Zs., Range, F. (2013) Wolf howling is mediated by relationship quality rather than underlying emotional stress. Current Biology, Aug 22

  • Quantity discrimination in wolves (Canis lupus)

    Utrata, E., Virányi, Z.& Range, F. 2012. Quantity discrimination in wolves (Canis lupus). Front.Psychology, 3: 505, 1-9.

    In how far are wolves able to discriminate quantities? Do they decide for 4 or 3 pieses, even if at choice  they do not have different qunatities in sight? Learn more what our wolves are able to (or neither not).

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  • Evaluating the logic of perspective-taking experiments

    Virányi, Zs. & Range, F. (2011) Evaluating the logic of perspective taking experiments. Learning & Behavior, 39: 306-309.

    Science is moved forward by disagreements and constructive arguments. Here we comment on recent results of American colleagues examining the perspective-taking abilities of wolves.

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  • Gaze following abilities in wolves (Canis lupus)

    Range, F. & Viranyi, Zs. (2011) Gaze following abilities in wolves (Canis lupus). PLoS ONE 6(2): e16888. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016888

    Aragorn and Kaspar look for what is capturing the attention of Bolita

    Animals, who follow the gazes of others, thereby get important informations about social interactions and for their survival. However, only a few species like hominids and ravens own the cognitive abilities, to do this even when they have to move around a barriere to see, what the other one sees.

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  • Dog-wolf differences in the utilisation of human pointing gestures

    Gácsi, M., Győri, B., Virányi, Zs., Kubinyi, E., Range, F., Belényi, B., Miklósi, Á.

    Gácsi, M., Győri, B., Virányi, Zs., Kubinyi, E., Range, F., Belényi, B., Miklósi, Á. (2009) Selection for developmental shift explains dog-wolf difference in utilizing human pointing gestures. Plos one 4(8):e6584.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006584

    Test set-up for the pointing test with a wolf

    In general dogs are very good in understanding human pointing gestures. The comparison of such communicative abillities in socialised canids could help to understand the evolution and epigenesis of pointing gesture in man.

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