This research was supported by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Canada Research Chair Program.
Y-chromosome evidence supports widespread signatures of three-species Canis hybridization in eastern North America
Article first published online: 13 AUG 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 2, Issue 9, pages 2325–2332, September 2012
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2012; 2(9): 2325–2332
- Issue published online: 11 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 13 AUG 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 15 MAY 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 14 MAY 2012
- Manuscript Received: 22 MAR 2012
- Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
- Canada Research Chair Program
- Canis ;
- eastern wolf;
There has been considerable discussion on the origin of the red wolf and eastern wolf and their evolution independent of the gray wolf. We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and a Y-chromosome intron sequence in combination with Y-chromosome microsatellites from wolves and coyotes within the range of extensive wolf–coyote hybridization, that is, eastern North America. The detection of divergent Y-chromosome haplotypes in the historic range of the eastern wolf is concordant with earlier mtDNA findings, and the absence of these haplotypes in western coyotes supports the existence of the North American evolved eastern wolf (Canis lycaon). Having haplotypes observed exclusively in eastern North America as a result of insufficient sampling in the historic range of the coyote or that these lineages subsequently went extinct in western geographies is unlikely given that eastern-specific mtDNA and Y-chromosome haplotypes represent lineages divergent from those observed in extant western coyotes. By combining Y-chromosome and mtDNA distributional patterns, we identified hybrid genomes of eastern wolf, coyote, gray wolf, and potentially dog origin in Canis populations of central and eastern North America. The natural contemporary eastern Canis populations represent an important example of widespread introgression resulting in hybrid genomes across the original C. lycaon range that appears to be facilitated by the eastern wolf acting as a conduit for hybridization. Applying conventional taxonomic nomenclature and species-based conservation initiatives, particularly in human-modified landscapes, may be counterproductive to the effective management of these hybrids and fails to consider their evolutionary potential.