Geraldine Werhahn

March-June 2012
University Eidgenössische Technischen Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ).
Project at the WSC Intraspezific “gaze-following” among wolves (Canis lupus lupus) und Hunden (Canis lupus familiaris)- Eine vergleichende Untersuchung über das spontane Vorkommen und den sozialen Kontext

In my project work at the WSC I study the gaze-following behaviour of dogs and wolves inthe pack. This behaviour is found in many social animals like primates and ravens, but also in humans. By gaze-following the animals can get a lot of important informations abouth the existence of food sources or enemies in their surroundings. But it also allows them to recognize eventual intentions of their conspecifis - looks can werve as a windog into the perception of the others!
The ability of dogs and wolves to follow the gaze of a human or a conspecific has been investigated already. The results were partially surprising and brought up further questions. To understand the meaning of gaze-following in a society of canids better, I want to study the occurence of this behaviou in the dog- and wolf packs at the Wolf Science Center WSC.

During my work at the WSC I was fascinated the most by watching the animals in their natrual behaviour. Each individual has his own character and therefore each pack life differs from the other and is also very dynamic. After I had finished my study in wild animal biology I gained field experience in the population monitoring of lynxes and wolves and was concerned with the conflicts round theirn return in our countries.

Besides population ecology adn the protection of predators I am especially interested in the investigation of their communication and their consciousness. The by evolution created continuity of structur and behaviour between man and animal points to an complexe experience of the world in animals, similar to that of us humans. With my scientific work I hope to contribute to a better understandig of the thought and the experience in canids and thus to impact positively on their status in the human society.