Coywolf

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Coywolf
Conservation status
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Canidae
Genus:Canis
Species:Canis latrans x Canis lupus
 
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Coywolf
Conservation status
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Canidae
Genus:Canis
Species:Canis latrans x Canis lupus

Coywolves are canid hybrids of wolves and coyotes. They have recently become common in eastern North America, where they have been considered eastern coyotes, eastern wolves, or red wolves.

Eastern coyotes[edit]

Many eastern coyotes (Canis latrans "var.") are coywolves, which despite having a majority of coyote (Canis latrans) ancestry, also descend from either the gray wolf (Canis lupus) or the red wolf (Canis lupus rufus, formerly Canis rufus). They come from a constantly evolving gene pool, and are viewed by some scientists as an emerging coywolf species.[1] The genetic composition and classification of the eastern coyote is debated among scientists.[2][3]

A study showed that of 100 coyotes collected in Maine, 22 had half or more gray wolf ancestry, and one was 89 percent gray wolf.[4] A theory has been proposed that the large eastern "coyotes" in Canada are actually hybrids of the smaller western coyotes and gray wolves that mated decades ago as the coyotes moved toward New England from their earlier western ranges.[5]

The red wolf[edit]

The red wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf

The red wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf. Strong evidence for hybridization was found through genetic testing that showed that red wolves have only 5% of their alleles unique from either gray wolves or coyotes. Genetic distance calculations have indicated that red wolves are intermediate between coyotes and gray wolves, and that they bear great similarity to wolf–coyote hybrids in southern Quebec and Minnesota. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA showed that existing red wolf populations are predominantly coyote in origin.[6] However, other scientific evidence may point to the species being evolved from a common ancestor of the coyote and eastern wolf, which would explain similar DNA.[7]

Eastern coyotes in Ontario[edit]

On 31 March 2010, a presentation by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources research scientist Brent Patterson outlined key findings that most coyotes in Eastern Ontario are wolf-coyote hybrids, and that the eastern wolves in Algonquin Park are, in general, not inter-breeding with coyotes.[8]

Hybridizations between southern coyotes and Mexican gray wolves[edit]

In evolutionary biology research conducted by a team of researchers in the Uppsala University, analysis of controlled-region haplotypes of the mitochondrial DNA and sex chromosomes from Mexican gray wolves detected the presence of coyote markers in some of the wolves. However, these markers were not detected in any of the captive Mexican gray wolves.[9] This study suggests that, when the subspecies was depleted in the wild from persecutions, some of the male wolves from the remnant populations began seeking potential mates in the female coyotes, with the female coywolf hybrid offsprings later backcrossing to other male wolves, while the male hybrids may have backcrossed with the female coyotes. Analysis on the haplotypes from coyotes in Texas also detected the presence of male wolf introgression such as Y-chromosomes from the gray wolves in some of the male coyotes. In an extremely rare case, the study found that one coyote out of seventy individuals from Texas was discovered to carry a mtDNA haplotype derived from a female Mexican gray wolf, implicating that a male coyote had also managed to breed with a female Mexican gray wolf in the wild. The Mexican gray wolf may be the only gray wolf subspecies in the southern states besides domestic and feral dogs to have hybridized with coyotes.

In tests performed on a sample from a taxidermied carcass of what was initially labelled as a chupacabra, DNA analysis conducted by Texas State University professor Michael Forstner showed that it was a coyote. Subsequent analysis by a veterinary genetics laboratory team at the University of California, Davis concluded that, based on the sex chromosomes, the male animal was a coyote–wolf hybrid sired by a male Mexican wolf.[10][11] It has been suggested that the hybrid animal was afflicted with sarcoptic mange, which would explain its hairless and blueish appearance.[10]

Behavior[edit]

Coywolves have the wolf characteristics of pack hunting and the coyote characteristic of lack of fear of human-developed areas. They seem to be bolder and more intelligent than regular coyotes.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vyhnak, Carola (Aug 15, 2009). "Meet the coywolf". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Chambers, Steven M. (Jun 2010). "A Perspective on the Genetic Composition of Eastern Coyotes". Northeastern Naturalist: 205–210. doi:10.1656/045.017.0203 . Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  3. ^ Oosthoek, Sharon (February 23, 2008). "The decline, fall and return of the red wolf". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  4. ^ WILSON, P., J. JAKUBAS, AND S. MULLEN. (2004). Genetic status and morphological characteristics of Maine coyotes as related to neighboring coyote and wolf populations. Final report to the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund Board, Grant #011-3-7. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Bangor, ME. 58 pp.
  5. ^ Zimmerman, David. "Eastern Coyotes Are Becoming Coywolves". Caledonian-Record. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  6. ^ "The red wolf (Canis rufus) – hybrid or not?" (PDF). Montana State University. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 
  7. ^ Lee, Philip. "North America's Lone Wolf Unmasked". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2012-09-06. 
  8. ^ Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Eastern Wolf
  9. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2556088/
  10. ^ a b http://bionews-tx.com/news/2013/09/01/texas-state-university-researcher-helps-unravel-mystery-of-texas-blue-dog-claimed-to-be-chupacabra/
  11. ^ http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2008/oct/31/sl_chupa_12/
  12. ^ Carola, Vyhnak (August 15, 2009). "Meet the coywolf". Toronto Star. Torstar. Retrieved 2010-02-01. 

External links[edit]