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Publication type: Journal Article
Document type: Proceedings Paper

Year: 2017

Author(s): Dale, R; Marshall-Pescini, S; Range, F

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

Source: Behaviour Scientific Meeting, Cairns, AUSTRALIA, Australia, 2015. Curr Zool. 2017; 63(3):323-330

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Dale Rachel
Marshall Sarah
Range Friederike

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition

Project(s): Understanding the proximate mechanisms of canine cooperation

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 nonkin. However, little is known about the socio-ecological factors that can promote such a commodity exchange. A species mating system is a factor potentially influencing food-for-sex patterns of behavior. 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. Results indicate that in both species and for both sexes the breeding period promotes decreased aggression. Additionally, females were more persistent in their attempts to access the food and were able to monopolize the resource more when in heat as compared to outside the breeding period. Finally, in dogs, but not wolves, females spent more time in proximity to the male"s bone and had a shorter latency to start eating it when in heat. Overall, this study demonstrates that the food-for-sex hypothesis plays a part in intersexual food sharing in canids, and highlights the role of females in the interaction. These effects were especially the case in dogs, suggesting a potential effect of mating system on food-for-sex responses.

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