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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Massachusetts Eastern Coyote biologist Jon Way has his hands in all things "Canid" and in his most recent CANID BIOLOGY AND CONSERVATION paper puts forth a multi-pronged paradgim for both preserving a core Red Wolf population in the southeastern USA as well as allowing for Coyote/Red Wolf hybridization outside a certain core Red Wolf refugia...........Jon cites the following in his easy-to-digest insightful article------"Research in the Algonquin Provincial Par area(eastern Canada) has shown that protection of all Canis has increased canid survival and reduced the amount of hybridization between coyotes and eastern wolves, effectively maintaining a more wolf-like animal there (Rutledge et al."...............................Moreover, "coyotes and red wolves could also be allowed to evolve outside the red wolf recovery area with reduced levels of exploitation through bag limits and strict harvest regulations"............ "This zone could encompass a predetermined area around the existing red wolf recovery area"............. "Kyle et al. (2006) suggested that management policies should allow eastern canids (depending on the region: eastern wolves, red wolves, coyotes, northeastern coyotes) to continue to adapt to their changing environment as an efficient means towards establishing a Canis population that is able to effectively exploit the available habitat and prey-base"...................."As noted in Beeland (2013), the history of eastern wolves in APP reads as one huge natural experiment in the hybridization process whereby breeding barriers emerged between eastern wolves and other Canis species (i.e. coyotes and grey wolves, Canis lupus ) when all Canis were protected(from human hunting and trapping)"........"Recent considerations of introgressive hybridization have suggested that the transfer of genetic material can be a source of genetic variation for adaptive characteristics, distinct from the parental species, thereby promoting reticulate evolution (Allendorf et al. 2001"........................, "Jiggins and Mallet 2000). Kyle et al. (2008: p. 700) noted that “coyote/wolf hybrids are likely harboring wolf genes that would otherwise be lost due to genetic drift in a small isolated population and hybridization is moving towards a Canis that is better adapted to anthropogenically modified landscapes".............. "For example, this is evidenced by the fact that north-eastern coyotes/coywolves colonized north-eastern North America five times faster than western coyotes did coming from south of the Great Lakes through the Ohio area (Kays et al. 2010), while eastern wolf populations remained in more remote areas around Algonquin Park and did not recolonize New England (Chambers et al. 2012, Rutledge et al. 2010, 2012a, 2012b)"............... "Thus, it appears that hybridization in this case positively benefitted two closely related species, whereby eastern wolf genes now persist in an area where the animal has been extirpated, and western coyote genes have spread to an area where they previ-ously did not exist (Way et al. 2010)"............ "This has also occurred in the mid-Atlantic region where it appears that north-eastern coyotes and western coyotes have hybridized to produce an intermediate canid between the two, that retain eastern wolf genes but lower amounts than found in north-eastern coyotes (Bozarth et al. 2011)"............... "Coppinger et al. (2010) argued that hybridization should not be artificially pre-vented, as it may increase genetic variability and in some instances it creates phenotypic novelties (such as the north-eastern coyote/coywolf in north-eastern North Amer'ica)


Strategies for red wolf recovery and management
Jonathan G. Way

Hinton et al. (2013) provided an important and timely review upon the 25th year of recovery efforts for the reintroduced red wolf Canis rufus population in north-eastern North Carolina.  They concluded there were three main issues affecting red wolves requiring continued research: hybridization with coyotes Canis latrans, inbreeding, and demographic issues stemming from human-caused mortality. 

red wolf

 Herein, I add some suggestions to improve red wolf recovery efforts, focusing on management strategies: (1) perhaps most importantly, establishing a core canid conservation area where all Canis (i.e. coyotes and wolves) are protected throughout the three red wolf recovery zones, and better protection of all Canis outside that region.  Due to lax state hunting laws, this will require greater protection of all Canis inhabiting the recov-ery area; (2) while I agree in principle to conserve a representative population of red wolves (which will be facilitated by suggestion #1), it is also important to recognize that hybridization between closely related species is a natural process which may promote preservation of red wolf genes by ensuring that their DNA is represented in wild Canis populations where pure red wolves may not actually live (i.e. outside the recovery area); (3) recognizing that red wolves would become more outbred if mated with closely related species or subspecies, such as the eastern wolf Canis lycaon. 

eastern coyote(coywolf)

 Suggestion #1 would likely help maintain a wolf-like animal within the core recovery area, and outside that area hybridization could be allowed to occur.  Potential genetic restoration could occur if eastern wolves are introduced to the inbred red wolf gene pool.  I conclude by offering eight strategies for conserving red wolves; many of these ideas can also be used to facilitate eastern wolf recovery in the Northeast United States.

western coyote


Anonymous said...

Glad as heck to read someone else doesn't have such an aversion to hybridization--my views EXACTLY! I find the whole adaptive(and NATURAL) process FASCINATING! I've always wondered(especially with these modern examples of hybridization among native American canids), if the long extinct DIRE WOLVES were ever a part of the mix, lo, back during the Pleistocene?....L.B.

Rick Meril said...

Would like to think a little "Dire" was infused into the wolf/coyote lineage