Intraspecific Variation in Canid Social Systems

  • Patricia D. Moehlman


The family Canidae is composed of approximately 37 species that are categorized into 10–13 genera (Clutton-Brock et al. 1976; Macdonald 1984). Canids typically are lithe muscular runners possessing the ability to travel at speeds of up to 30 km/h for extended periods. They are diverse in body weight (1.5–31.1 kg), diet, and habitat (Gittleman 1984; Macdonald 1984). They usually breed once a year and initially raise their litters in ground dens. Compared with most mammals, they have a large litter size and a long period of infant dependency (Kleiman and Eisenberg 1973). The pervasive mating system among canids is obligatory monogamy, a trait that is rare in mammals (Kleiman 1977). Canids are also unusual in that family members share food and provide care for sick adults and dependent young. The larger canid species regurgitate food to family members, which allows greater efficiency in and opportunity for sharing food.


Dominant Female Golden Jackal Subordinate Female Maned Wolf Polygynous Mating System 
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  • Patricia D. Moehlman

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