Data_Sheet_1_Context-Specific Arousal During Resting in Wolves and Dogs: Effects of Domestication?.docx (454.51 kB)
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Data_Sheet_1_Context-Specific Arousal During Resting in Wolves and Dogs: Effects of Domestication?.docx

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posted on 24.11.2020, 04:51 authored by Hillary Jean-Joseph, Kim Kortekaas, Friederike Range, Kurt Kotrschal

Due to domestication, dogs differ from wolves in the way they respond to their environment, including to humans. Selection for tameness and the associated changes to the autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation have been proposed as the primary mechanisms of domestication. To test this idea, we compared two low-arousal states in equally raised and kept wolves and dogs: resting, a state close to being asleep, and inactive wakefulness, which together take up an important part in the time budgets of wolves and dogs. We measured arousal via cardiac output in three conditions: alone, with a familiar human partner, or with pack members (i.e., conspecifics). Specifically, we compared heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) of six wolves and seven dogs. As patterns of resting can vary adaptively, even between closely related species, we predicted that dogs would be generally more aroused than wolves, because living with humans may come with less predictable contexts than living with conspecifics; hence, dogs would need to be responsive at all times. Furthermore, we predicted that due to the effects of domestication, emotional social support by familiar people would reduce arousal more in dogs than in equally human-socialized wolves, leading to more relaxed dogs than wolves when away from the pack. Overall, we found a clear effect of the interactions between species (i.e., wolf versus dog), arousal state (i.e., resting or awake inactive) and test conditions, on both HR and HRV. Wolves and dogs were more aroused when alone (i.e., higher HR and lower HRV) than when in the presence of conspecifics or a familiar human partner. Dogs were more relaxed than wolves when at rest and close to a familiar human but this difference disappeared when awake. In conclusion, instead of the expected distinct overall differences between wolves and dogs in ANS regulation, we rather found subtle context-specific responses, suggesting that such details are important in understanding the domestication process.