Research: Canid Behavior & Morphology

Dr. Suzanne La Croix, M.S., Ph.D. loves studying what animals do - especially the ontogeny of behavior and morphology.


I am currently investigating age-related variation in feeding performance and in the morphology of the feeding apparatus of coyotes (Canis latrans) using a novel combination of behavioral and geometric morphometric techniques.  By researching the functional ability of coyotes at food-processing tasks we can delineate development patterns across all age classes of coyotes, and specifically during early ontogeny.  Further, by experimentally manipulating the "bone processing opportunities" of two groups of coyote pups we can investigate its effect on their feeding performance during ontogeny. Parallel morphometric analyses of an ontogenetic series of coyote skulls allows us to describe the development of the feeding apparatus as well as document variations among animals receiving early bone processing opportunities and those that do not.   We are grateful for the cooperation of the USDA/APHIS National Wildlife Research Center field station in Utah.


I also remain interested in the development and quantification of beneficial human-animal interactions with emphasis on the canine cognitive component of human-canine dyads.


Dr. La Croix conducted her doctoral research at Michigan State University in the Department of Zoology. 


She also holds a Master of Science degree from Central Michigan University where her dissertation work, “Agonistic behavior patterns of the domestic dog in response to a threatening stimulus” incorporated innovative research tools in quantifying behavior in canines.