Video questions: Breeding foxes and social temperament

This video is about domestication – or “taming by breeding” – of foxes, a Russian research project that has been conducted since the 1950s. It shows which behavioral patterns of foxes were selected during breeding, what was found out about the genetic makeup underlying these patterns of behavior and to what extent fox breeding is comparable to the breeding of dogs.

Possible discussion questions about the video:

  • Which characteristics were selected or were of interest in the breeding of foxes (and also dogs), which were not?

  • What does “hyper-sociability” mean? What behaviors does it involve?

  • Describe the simple experiment breeders used in order to evaluate the sociability of dogs, foxes, and other domesticated animals.

  • Is tame and friendly temperament determined only by inherited genes? If not, by what other factors?

  • Why can geneticists use bred foxes rather than bred dogs to better study the genetics underlying a tame, friendly temperament?

  • What external characteristics/body features are associated with domestication in addition to social temperament?

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Worksheet: Natural selection of traits for cooperative foraging

A worksheet in which students calculate and graph the changes in the frequencies of traits related to cooperative foraging in a population over several generations, exploring the role of variation, fitness consequences and trait inheritance in evolutionary change.

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