In the book on the grey wolf reproduction biology (Sidorovich & Rotenko, 2019) we told about several patterns of wolf pack multi-breeding, which we documented in Naliboki Forest and Paazierre Forest in Belarus during the last two decades. The main distinctive feature in wolf pack multi-breeding is how many big adult males, which perhaps equally ranked, take part in a breeding group of wolves. If a male leads a breeding group, normally it is only a strong male in the breeding group. Such a group of breeders may include two or three breeding females.
In 2020 we published series of posts (1); (2); (3); (4); (5) about triple-breeding pack of wolves, which consisted of three semi-independent breeding couples. This breeding group and the whole pack was led by one of the breeding females that we call Torn Ear. She was easily recognisable on photos due to really torn right ear.
Since the last May we began using video mode in our camera-traps more often in order to create a scientific film about reproduction in wolves in few years. The video sequence you see below is a kind of a report on the video results we gained across breeding of wolves in Naliboki Forest in 2020. In this video you see some interesting moments demonstrating various behaviour of wolf pups and parents during this secretive period.
Concerning the wolf Canis lupus breeding in Europe and wider in Eurasia there is a widely spread belief that the species is strictly monogamous with a certain way of breeding and pack formation in family pattern (e.g. Bibikov D.I., 1985 and references therein; Jędrzejewska & Jędrzejewski, 1998).
Those beliefs suggested the three following theses: first, during breeding season, a wolf pack has merely one litter or there are no pups; second, usually a wolf pack consists of parent wolves and their pups of the current and previous biological years as a normal maximum; additionally, such a pack may subordinate some non-relative wolves; and third, usually offspring disperse from their maternal pack around mating season, in the second year of their life, when they are 20-22 months old.
Together with Irina Rotenko we recently published the second edition of the book on the wolf Canis lupus reproduction biology, which was based on the data gained in Belarus. There, we address the questions of the species mating, denning and raising of pups as well as mortality in wolf pups, which are still insufficiently investigated and full of contradicting hypotheses and knowledge. Therefore, the subtitle is “common beliefs versus reality”. However, the main thing for us in doing this book is to share the knowledge and skills we have gained on wolves in Belarus with wolf colleagues and amateurs.
In the second edition of the book we advanced all the former chapters basing on the results of the intensive study of wolf reproduction during spring-summer of 2018 and 2019 in Naliboki Forest. Also, we added one more chapter about the revealed trends in the denning behaviour of wolves in connection with the changes in the vertebrate community in Naliboki Forest.
In Europe and wider in Eurasia between wolf researchers and in the circle of other wolf-related people (e.g. hunters specialising in killing wolves, wolf pup searches) there is a widely spread belief on wolf reproduction that wolves are strictly monogamous species with a certain way of breeding and family pattern of pack formation. Actually, in my study in Belarus since the late 1990s there have been found so many abnormalities in those, that I start to think about what actually prevails in the wolf reproduction and packing: the “rules” or “exceptions”. Such “abnormalities” occurring too often are a very interesting phenomenon and they need to be further investigated. Continue reading “Wolf breeding peculiarities”