Friederike Range

Domestication Lab, Dept. of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna 

Friederike Range received her Master in Animal Physiology at the University of Bayreuth (1998) and her PhD at the Dep. of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA (2004). This was followed by post-doctoral fellowships at the Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle at Grünau (2004-2005), and at the Dep. of Neurobiology and Cognition, University of Vienna (2005-2008), both Austria. 2007 she co-founded the Clever Dog Lab, 2008 the Wolf Science Center at Grünau, one year later at Ernstbrunn, Austria. Both labs are embedded today in the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and have developed into internationally highly regarded research groups.

Friederike Range is interested in the evolution of mind and her research focuses on social behavior and cognitive abilities of non-human animals. Her research integrates ethological and psychological approaches to achieve a better understanding of how non-human animals cope with their social and physical environment. She combines observational studies and controlled experiments on mental mechanisms with physiological measures. Her early research career concentrated mainly on primates, but she is now primarily focused on investigating dogs and their closest wild-living relatives, wolves. Studying these canine species as extensively as primates is important since elucidating similarities and differences in the cognitive processes between non-primate and primate taxa may have important implications for our understanding of decision-making in humans and non-human animals. Furthermore, rigorous comparisons of dogs and wolves will help us understand the biological and evolutionary changes accompanying domestication, which can lead to fundamental insights into behavior and its underlying neural and genetic mechanisms. FR's central research goals are to ultimately increase our understanding of socio-cognitive skills as adaptations to specific environments (e.g., wolves are selected to live in family units and cooperate with each other, like early hunter-gatherer societies, while dogs are selected to live in the human niche. Interestingly, while in the past, dogs have been viewed solely as the product of human selection for specific traits, recent ideas acknowledge that ecological changes in the dogs' environment i.e. the dependence on human-generated resources - rather than just artificial selection - may have affected dogs' social behaviors and cognitive skills. Accordingly, we can investigate breed dogs as the product of very strong selection pressures for specific human desired traits and free-ranging dogs that have mainly been exposed to natural selection and some human selection against aggression. Together, the wolf-dog and the dog-dog comparison may further enrich our understanding of the evolutionary background and origin of our own skills.

For more information see the website of FRWSC and CDL.