Do females use their sexual status to gain resource access? Investigating food-for-sex in wolves and dogs

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.

Here, we compared wolves, which form pair-bonds, with dogs, which are typically promiscuous in free ranging contexts, to investigate the effect of reproductive stages on the behavior around a food source in 2 different contexts. Furthermore, we considered the roles of both the males and the females in the potential food-for-sex exchange.

Overall, this study demonstrates that the food-for-sex hypothesis plays a part in intersexual food sharing in canines, and highlights the role of females in the interaction.