Why we are interested in wolves
Wolves are highly social carnivores that live in small family groups. All family members usually help with raising the offspring. Wolves are especially famous for cooperative hunting large game in packs. They employ a range of tactics of chasing, catching and killing their prey.
Wolves seem to be extremely flexible and innovative animals that are able to overcome the hazards of an environment that changes often in regard to novelty, prey availability, weather, and dangers imposed by other animals and humans. They are hunter and hunted at the same time.
Thus, we would expect that they have highly developed social and cognitive skills that allow for successful cooperation in order to survive if ecological and/or social factors are not favorable. Still, experimental modeling of these complex abilities is lacking.
Moreover, wolves in the form of dogs are together with humans for probably more than 50.000 years. Hence, Homo sapiens spread of over the world in the company of dogs.
Wolves and dogs
Over the longest period of human development, hunter-gatherers generally had a high regard of wolves, considering them as "brothers" or even as spiritual ambassadors.
This changed with the advent of pastoralism and agriculture. Wolves turned from friend into foe, whereas dogs quickly diversified into a variety of roles as human assistants and companions.
Still, modern mankind has maintained a nearly mysterious fascination of wolves, which are either loved or feared, but leave nobody untouched.
Ever since, humans in company of dog have been highly successful in conquering the world. By using the human vector, dogs have become one of the most successful vertebrate species.
The wolf however succumbed. Once the most successful foragers and hunters over the Northern hemisphere, wolves now live in fractionated populations, many of them still at the brink of extinction.