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Wolf Species Howl in Different Dialects, Says Study

Update Date: Feb 12, 2016 11:31 AM EST

According to a recent study, the howling pattern of dogs, wolves, coyotes and other canids reveal how different species howl in a different way. This can also explain how the animals communicate socially. The study, published in the journal Behavioural Processes, examined the howling process for species within Canidae taxonomic family that includes wolves, foxes, jackal, dogs and coyotes. For the purpose of the study, researchers examined more than 2,000 samples of howling from as many as a dozen canid species. These samples were analyzed against a computer algorithm to see how the calls were different from one another and how they can be differentiated, says the Christian Science Monitor

"We found that different species and subspecies showed markedly different use of howl types, indicating that howl modulation is not arbitrary, but can be used to distinguish one population from another," the researchers wrote in the study's abstract. "We believe that quantitative cross-species comparisons such as these can provide important understanding of the nature and use of communication in socially cooperative species, as well as support conservation and management of wolf populations," Science Daily says.

A release from the University of Cambridge, whose zoology department is the home of the study's lead researcher Arik Kershenbaum, says that while the earlier studies were about subjective recognition of human patterns, the computer used in this study were capable of analyzing the howl objectively to examine the howl sound waves and identify the "characteristically different repertoires of howl type usage."

"We are currently working on research in Yellowstone National Park in the US using multiple recording devices and triangulation technology to try and pick up howl sounds and location. In this way we might be able to tell whether certain calls relate to distance communication or pack warnings, for example," Kershenbaum said, according to Nature World News

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