, Volume 173, Issue 4, pp 1539–1550 | Cite as

Inter-specific territoriality in a Canis hybrid zone: spatial segregation between wolves, coyotes, and hybrids

  • John F. Benson
  • Brent R. Patterson
Community ecology - Original research


Gray wolves (Canis lupus) and coyotes (Canis latrans) generally exhibit intraspecific territoriality manifesting in spatial segregation between adjacent packs. However, previous studies have found a high degree of interspecific spatial overlap between sympatric wolves and coyotes. Eastern wolves (Canis lycaon) are the most common wolf in and around Algonquin Provincial Park (APP), Ontario, Canada and hybridize with sympatric gray wolves and coyotes. We hypothesized that all Canis types (wolves, coyotes, and hybrids) exhibit a high degree of spatial segregation due to greater genetic, morphologic, and ecological similarities between wolves and coyotes in this hybrid system compared with western North American ecosystems. We used global positioning system telemetry and probabilistic measures of spatial overlap to investigate spatial segregation between adjacent Canis packs. Our hypothesis was supported as: (1) the probability of locating wolves, coyotes, and hybrids within home ranges (\(\bar{x}\) = 0.05) or core areas (\(\bar{x}\) < 0.01) of adjacent packs was low; and (2) the amount of shared space use was negligible. Spatial segregation did not vary substantially in relation to genotypes of adjacent packs or local environmental conditions (i.e., harvest regulations or road densities). We provide the first telemetry-based demonstration of spatial segregation between wolves and coyotes, highlighting the novel relationships between Canis types in the Ontario hybrid zone relative to areas where wolves and coyotes are reproductively isolated. Territoriality among Canis may increase the likelihood of eastern wolves joining coyote and hybrid packs, facilitate hybridization, and could play a role in limiting expansion of the genetically distinct APP eastern wolf population.


Canis lycaon Home range Hybridization Overlap Utilization distribution 



This research was funded primarily by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR)-Wildlife Research and Development Section. Additional funding was provided by Trent University through D. Murray, OMNR-Algonquin Provincial Park, World Wildlife Fund Canada, OMNR-Species at Risk, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, and W. Garfield Weston Foundation. We thank J. Fieberg for providing computer code for overlap analyses. E. Howe and P. Mahoney provided helpful discussion during manuscript preparation. We thank P. Gelok, R. Eckenswiller, and J. Campion for field assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate ProgramTrent UniversityPeterboroughCanada
  2. 2.Wildlife Research and Development SectionOntario Ministry of Natural ResourcesPeterboroughCanada

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