Saturday March 05, 2016

Wolves' call of the wild comes in different dialects

Torak the wolf howling

Torak the wolf howling (Mike Collins, UK Wolf Conservation Trust)

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Scientists have suspected that wolves - similar to other social animals like whales and dolphins - communicate using distinct dialects, depending on their species and where they live.

Dr. Holly Root-Gutteridge, a Post-Doctoral researcher in the Department of Biology at Syracuse University, and her colleagues set out to investigate this by listening to wolf howls from around the world. She analysed more than 2,000 howls from 13 species for pitch, frequency, fluctuation and pattern of notes within the howl.

They found that North American wolves sounded quite different from European wolves, and that distinct dialects had indeed evolved, just as they have within human languages. They also found that instances of interbreeding, such as red wolves and coyotes, resulted in a hybridized howl. 

Related Links

Paper in Behavioural Processes
- University Of Cambridge release
Discovery News story