Mathematical Modeling of the Evolution of the Domestic Dog

Faculty Sponsor

Alex Capaldi


Arts and Sciences



Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


The domestication of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) is generally thought to be the earliest example of animal domestication by humans. Yet, the processes which gave rise to it are still relatively unknown. There are two prominent hypotheses: that the wolf was domesticated by human intentional breeding or that wolves essentially domesticated themselves. In the latter case, wolves who were more tolerant of humans and more willing to enter early human settlements gained an evolutionary advantage over those that were not willing to do so. We have developed an agent-based (mathematical and computer) model (ABM) to simulate this second scenario. The model incorporates availability of food sources, time spent with humans, the tameness of the wolves, reproduction, and death, with the values of these parameters being informed by the literature. Ultimately, we would also like to build an ABM of the first scenario (human intentional breeding) with the goal of comparing simulated domestication times of the two scenarios to archaeology evidence of when wolves were domesticated. This would allow us to determine which hypothesis is most probable.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Ashley Hire is a sophomore math and secondary education double major, with a minor in chemistry. Her interest in science and math alike promotes her interest in this topic.

Samuel Iselin is a junior math and computer science major. He has had previous experience with SOURCE projects, and is also very interested in environmental science, making this project a very fitting one.

Michael Revor is freshman math major. Although he is a freshman, Michael has a passion for math and is a vital part to this project.

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