Wolves are most often known for their hunting or predatory behavior. This unit includes full length video of wolves in Yellowstone and Canada's arctic region as they work as a pack and fulfill their role as a top predator in the ecosystem. But, as with any lecture, it's important that the basic terminology and core concepts of a subject are presented. So, let's start with basic notes about wolf predation and the adaptation of predator and prey behavior. Reading about wolf predation is no substitute for watching wolf predation, after you have reviewed the notes, move on to the video, but don't just watch the video, make notes on the hunting patterns, structure, technique and behavior. What notes do you take? This is a great time to introduce the Ethogram Codes. Ethograms are behavioral dictionaries for a species, a way of making sure we all speak the same language. A complete Ethogram with video can be purchased from the International Wolf Center Den Store. For the purposes of this course, a list of Ethogram categories with a reference to the Ethogram codes is provided to aid in your behavioral observations. Ethograms are not only used in captive studies, Biologists, Dan MacNulty, Dave Mech and Doug Smith have proposed an Ethogram of large carnivore predatory behavior exemplified by the wolf. This document is worth reading to give a better background on the functionality of wolf behavior in the wild which will drive instincts.
Are wolves in the arctic region using similar patterns as wolves in Yellowstone? Try to identify the behaviors and see if there are similarities.As an additional assignment, prior to observing captive wolves, it's important to categorize behaviors as they serve a function in the wild. While watching these video clips, keep a running list of behaviors as coded by the Ethogram. Let's start with Yellowstone, Elk is a primary resource for wolves in the Western U.S. watch this clip of wolves taking down an Elk. Take a moment and list 5 behaviors that you observed in the process of preying on the Elk.
Now, turn your attentions northward to the Wolves on Ellsemere Island in Northern Canada. Dr. Dave Mech has been studying these wolves for decades and shares a narrative of these wolves and their prey which has a lot of great resources and references. In 1988, Dr, Dave Mech and National Geographic Photographer Jim Brandenburg filmed these unique wolves known as the White Wolves. Settle in for some unique footage and take good notes on the behaviors you observed. There continues to be behavioral observations on the Island and data is provided online through a Blog on Wolves of the High Arctic.
Take another moment and list 5 behaviors that you observed in the process of preying on muskox. Are the behaviors similar to the Elk predation clip?
In this last clip, you will view a broader view of wolf behavior, beyond predation, it's an investigation of the dynamics of life in the wild,In the Valley of the Wolves - Yellowstone National Park. This video features that infamous Druid Pack, that reached a pack size of 37 before their pack declined and lost their territory.