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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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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Linda Rutledge is one of North America's preeminent carnivore geneticists(formerly working out of Trent State; now Princeton University)............Linda has long put forth the Canis three-species paradigm(the model that makes most sense to this Blogger) to explain the family tree of the Wolf and Coyote in the USA and Canada....................In her words--- "There are two prevailing evolutionary models for North American Canis: (i) a two-species model that identifies grey wolves (C. lupus) and (western) coyotes (Canis latrans) as distinct species that gave rise to various hybrids, including the Great Lakes-boreal wolf (also known as Great Lakes wolf ), the eastern coyote (also known as Coywolf/brush wolf/ tweed wolf ), the red wolf and the eastern wolf"..................... "(On the other hand), the three-species model identifies the grey wolf, western coyote and eastern wolf (C. lycaon) as distinct species, where Great Lakes-boreal wolves are the product of grey wolf eastern wolf hybridization, eastern coyotes are the result of eastern wolf western coyote hybridization, and red wolves are considered historically the same species as the eastern wolf, although their contemporary genetic signature has diverged owing to a bottleneck associated with captive breeding".................."The recognition of the eastern wolf as a separate species does not exclude the possibility that a grey wolf eastern wolf hybrid animal (previously identified as Canis lupus lycaon, boreal/ Ontario-type, similar to a Great Lakes-boreal wolf currently located in the Great Lakes states and across Manitoba, northern Ontario, and northern Quebec, historically inhabited the northeastern United States alongside eastern wolves, and there is some evidence to support the historical presence of both Canis types"................ "The recognition of C. lycaon(eastern/red wolf) should not, therefore, influence grey wolf delisting decisions in the USA., in light of the current funding gap for biodiversity"...............Anotherwards, both the Great Lakes Gray/Eastern Wolf admix and the Eastern/Red Wolf species should be afforded Endangered Species protection east of the Mississippi and a full rewilding of both animals should be pursued in all the habitat previously identified by biologists as suitable for long term persistence of the wolves-low human and roadway densities, continuous/contiguous forest regions and whitetail deer habitat of at pre colonial or higher 6 to 12 deer per square mile..................Linda's full paper can be read by clicking on the link below.............Execellent research and fascinating and relatively easy to read verbage for the layman to digest and ingest .....Enjoy this one!

Evolutionary biology RAD sequencing and genomic simulations resolve hybrid origins within North American Canis

 L. Y. Rutledge1 , S. Devillard2 , J. Q. Boone3 , P. A. Hohenlohe4 and B. N. White1 1 Biology Department, Trent University, 2140 East Bank Drive, Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 7B8 Canada 2 Universite´ de Lyon, F-69000, Lyon; Universite´ Lyon 1; CNRS, UMR5558, Laboratoire de Biome´trie et Biologie Evolutive, F-69622, Villeurbanne, France 3 Floragenex Inc., Eugene, OR 97405, USA 4 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA 

Top predators are disappearing worldwide, significantly changing ecosystems that depend on top-down regulation. Conflict with humans remains the primary roadblock for large carnivore conservation, but for the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), disagreement over its evolutionary origins presents a significant barrier to conservation in Canada and has impeded protection for grey wolves (Canis lupus) in the USA.

Gray Wolf(found West and north of the
 Great Lakes)

Great Lakes Wolf(admix of Gray and
Eastern Wolf)

Here, we use 127 235 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified from restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq) of wolves and coyotes, in combination with genomic simulations, to test hypotheses of hybrid origins of Canis types in eastern North America. 

Eastern Wolf(same as Red Wolf)
(found in the Eastern USA and

Red Wolf(same as eastern wolf)(only 50
in the wild,in North Carolina Barrier

A principal components analysis revealed no evidence to support eastern wolves, or any other Canis type, as the product of grey wolf western coyote hybridization. In contrast, simulations that included eastern wolves as a distinct taxon clarified the hybrid origins of Great Lakes boreal wolves and eastern coyotes.

Western Coyote(historically found west of 
the Mississippi)

Eastern Coyote(western coyote/eastern
 wolf admix)

 Our results support the eastern wolf as a distinct genomic cluster in North America and help resolve hybrid origins of Great Lakes wolves and eastern coyotes. The data provide timely information that will shed new light on the debate over wolf conservation in eastern North America.

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