A parasite makes wolves more likely to become pack leaders

A parasite might be driving some wolves to lead or go solo.

Wolves in Yellowstone National Park infected with Toxoplasma gondii make more daring decisions than their uninfected counterparts, researchers report November 24 in Communications Biology. The wolves’ enhanced risk-taking means they are more likely to leave their pack, or become leaders of their own.

“Those are two decisions that can really benefit wolves, or could cause wolves to die,” says Connor Meyer, a field biologist at the University of Montana in Missoula. The findings reveal a parasite’s potent ability to influence a wolf’s social fate.

Disease is often considered important for wildlife, mostly in the context of killing its

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