Tag Archives: wild canines

Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species. A Book Review

Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered SpeciesWolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species by L. David Mech
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ★★★★

“Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species” is a “classic” wolf biology book from 1971.


The book systematically outlines key aspects of wild wolves and their environments: such as their ecological niche, pack structure and population dynamics, physical and mental characteristics, hunting, seasonal movement patterns, key species of prey, and their relations with prey and other stake holders… including humans (and much more).

Some unusual circumstances surround this book: The author says he has urged his publishers to stop republishing it, because some of the research in it is outmoded. He is particular unhappy about the book’s contribution to cementing “the myth about the alpha wolf” and the wolf pack as a dominance hierarchy. He explains the “alpha wolf” problem in this video:



The publishers, however, continue to reprint and sell the book. Continue reading


Wolves of the High Arctic: a Book Review

Wolves of the High ArcticWolves of the High Arctic by the International Wolf Centre and L. David Mech
My rating: 5 of 5 stars ★★★★★

Minimalist, photography-based, insightful and concise presentation of the life of wild wolves in the High Arctic by some of the world’s leading authorities on wolf biology.

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The Arctic Wolf: Living with the Pack. A Book Review

The Arctic Wolf: Living with the PackThe Arctic Wolf: Living with the Pack by L. David Mech
My rating: 5 of 5 stars ★★★★★

The Arctic Wolf chronicles a couple of summers in the life of a pack of wild arctic wolves observed by wolf biologist David Mech, who during that time lived with the pack together with wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg (who later wrote the book White Wolf about the same pack).

To find and be accepted by this pack was the highlight of Mech’s career, and he describes through several chapters in the book how he had dreamt of a chance like this through much of his 30 year long career as a wolf researcher and “obsessed student of wolves”. Wolves are rare and extremely wary creatures, so studies of wolves in the wild are typically undertaken indirectly or via observations from small aircraft; and most (especially older) studies of wolf packs’ social behaviour and group dynamics draw conclusions from studies of captive wolf packs composed of brought-together unrelated individuals. Such captive packs differ in fundamental ways from natural wolf packs, which are essentially nuclear families comprising a pair of parents (naturally in charge), and some of their offspring from previous years.

Mech’s dream was to study a litter of wild wolf pups being raised by a wolf pack in the wild. The book documents his dream coming true as he finds the wolf pack on Ellesmere island in the high arctic where humans are so rare and hunting to sporadic that wolves don’t have the same extreme fear and avoidance of humans that wolves do almost everywhere else.
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