A description of relational patterns of movement during 'ritualized fighting' in wolves

Greg Moran, John C. Fentress, Ilan Golani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Schenkel (1947, 1967) was the first to describe 'ritualized fighting' in wolves. The current study identifies a set of movement patterns employed during such interactions. The relations between the interactants' movements and the contribution of each individual to these relations are emphasized. Three relational variables are employed to describe interactions: relative distance, relative orientation, and the points of opposition between the interactants. These variables in combination form a three-dimensional interaction space in which a single point describes the momentary state of the configuration of the wolves. The maintenance of four relative configurations plus five transitions between such configurations comprised a consistent set of behavioural patterns. These regular patterns of relational movements indicate that each interactant's movements are constrained in part by a set of rules related to the simultaneous movements of the social partner. In addition, the description of the actual movements in the environment by the individual interactants revealed role-dependent individual contributions by the two interactants to the coordination and management of the relational variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1165
Number of pages20
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1981
Externally publishedYes


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