Growth in Skull Length and Width of the Arctic Wolf: Comparison of Models and Ontogeny of Sexual Size Dimorphism


  • Nicholas C. Larter
  • John A. Nagy
  • Tad M. Bartareau



Canis lupus, Canadian Arctic Archipelago, growth model, sexual dimorphism, skull, von Bertalanffy, wolf


We compared four classical nonlinear growth curves (Gompertz, Logistic, Richards, and von Bertalanffy) in modeling observed skull condylobasal length and zygomatic width as a function of age in wild arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos). We analyzed gender-specific growth patterns and the ontogeny of sexual size dimorphism in this species as revealed by the best model from these alternatives. For both genders and skull size measurements, the size-at-age data provided the best support for the von Bertalanffy model because of higher fitting degrees, lower root mean squared standard deviation of data points about the fitted growth curve, Akaike weight of 37.4% or higher, and fewer parameters derived directly from metabolic laws. Male asymptotic condylobasal length was 3.2% longer, and zygomatic width 4.1% wider, than in females. Sexual size dimorphism in this species develops in part because males grow faster, which might benefit them in terms of reproductive success and the capture and killing of large ungulate prey.