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. 2017 Nov 6;12(11):e0187450.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187450. eCollection 2017.

Post-conflict Opponent Affiliation Reduces Victim Re-Aggression in a Family Group of Captive Arctic Wolves (Canis Lupus Arctos)

Free PMC article

Post-conflict Opponent Affiliation Reduces Victim Re-Aggression in a Family Group of Captive Arctic Wolves (Canis Lupus Arctos)

Martina Lazzaroni et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Post-conflict affiliative interactions have been widely investigated in primates but not extensively in other species. Using the Post Conflict-Matched Control (PC-MC) comparison method, this study investigated the patterns of post-conflict opponent affiliation (POA) of a captive family group of 19 arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos), investigating the correlation with various factors. We found that POAs occurred mainly in the non-feeding context and more often when the victim was dominant and the aggressor subordinate. Furthermore, POAs were more likely to have been initiated by the victim than the aggressor. Victims' stress related behaviours occurred more in PC than MC periods, and more after high vs. low intensity aggressions but they were not more likely to occur after conflicts between wolves with a stronger social bond and POAs did not reduce their rate of occurrence. Our results showed that re-aggression was twice less frequent when a friendly interaction occurred between the aggressor and the victim, and consistent with this, victims engaged in POAs more often than the aggressor. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that POAs in wolves may have been selected for as a mechanism to avoid conflict escalation, which could lead to social disruption and hence jeopardize cooperative activities. The high relatedness among individuals in the pack and the greater dependence of all members on cooperation in breeding and hunting may reduce the importance of 'relationship quality' as a mediating factor of POAs, although dominance relationships, which are directly linked to the risks of further conflicts, do play an important role.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Mean latency to the first affiliative interaction in PC and MC periods.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Temporal distribution of first affiliative interactions in PC and MC periods.
Fig 3
Fig 3. Effect of rank relationship between opponents on the occurrence of post-conflict affiliative interactions.

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Grant support

This study was supported by funding from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF Der Wissenschaftsfonds, project number: the project M1400-B19 to Simona Cafazzo. Sarah Marshall-Pescini was supported by the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Program ( by ERC Grant Agreement n. [311870]. Martina Lazzaroni was supported by the Doctoral Fellowship Programme of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.