Wolves are known for their howling calls, and a new study shows that their howling might be a form of communication. When a pack leader goes out of sight, the wolves in the study howled more and for a longer period of time than if a subordinate wolf was missing.
Wolves are known for their howling calls, and a new study shows that their howling changed according to their social relationships.
When a pack leader or close friend goes out of sight, the wolves in the study howled more and for a longer period of time than if a subordinate wolf was missing.
Researchers listened to nine wolves from two different packs to try and find a pattern for when and how much they howled.
Dr Simon Townsend one of the lead authors from the University of Zurich in Switzerland said: “Wolves seem to howl more when higher ranking individuals leave because these individuals play quite important roles in the social lives of wolves. When they leave it makes sense that the remaining wolves would want to try and re-initiate or regain contact. The same applies for friendship.”
The study also looked at wolves stress levels by measuring their cortisol, a hormone associated with elevated stress, and found there was only a minor increase when the pack leader left, but no change if the departing wolf was a friend, further indication that social rather than physiological factors are at play.