, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1747-1765
Date: 12 Mar 2010

Genetic outcomes of wolf recovery in the western Great Lakes states

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Abstract

Conflicting interpretations of the influence of coyote hybridization on wolf recovery in the western Great Lakes (WGL) states have stemmed from disagreement over the systematics of North American wolves. Questions regarding their recovery status have resulted. We addressed these issues with phylogenetic and admixture analysis of DNA profiles of western wolves, WGL states wolves and Wisconsin coyotes developed from autosome and Y-chromosome microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA control region sequence. Hybridization was assessed by comparing the haplotypes exhibited by sympatric wolves and coyotes. Genetic variability and connectivity were also examined. These analyses support the recognition of Canis lycaon as a unique species of North American wolf present in the WGL states and found evidence of hybridization between C. lupus and C. lycaon but no evidence of recent hybridization with sympatric coyotes. The recolonized WGL states wolves are genetically similar to historical wolves from the region and should be considered restored.

The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.