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Mol Ecol. 2007 May;16(9):1823-34.

Locating hybrid individuals in the red wolf (Canis rufus) experimental population area using a spatially targeted sampling strategy and faecal DNA genotyping.

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Department of Fish and Wildlife, University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources, Moscow, Idaho 83844-1136, USA.


Hybridization with coyotes (Canis latrans) continues to threaten the recovery of endangered red wolves (Canis rufus) in North Carolina and requires the development of new strategies to detect and remove coyotes and hybrids. Here, we combine a spatially targeted faecal collection strategy with a previously published reference genotype data filtering method and a genetic test for coyote ancestry to screen portions of the red wolf experimental population area for the presence of nonred wolf canids. We also test the accuracy of our maximum-likelihood assignment test for identifying hybrid individuals using eight microsatellite loci instead of the original 18 loci and compare its performance to the Bayesian approach implemented in newhybrids. We obtained faecal DNA genotypes for 89 samples, 73 of which were matched to 23 known individuals. The performance of two sampling strategies - comprehensive sweep and opportunistic spot-check was evaluated. The opportunistic spot-check sampling strategy required less effort than the comprehensive sweep sampling strategy but identified fewer individuals. Six hybrids or coyotes were detected and five of these individuals were subsequently captured and removed from the population. The accuracy and power of the genetic test for coyote ancestry is decreased when using eight loci; however, nonred wolf canids are identified with high frequency. This combination of molecular and traditional field-based approaches has great potential for addressing the challenge of hybridization in other species and ecosystems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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