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J Hered. 2016 May;107(3):287-93. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esw002. Epub 2016 Jan 16.

Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Southeastern Pre-Columbian Canids.

Author information

1
From the School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (Brzeski and Taylor); Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (DeBiasse); Endangered Wolf Center, P.O. Box 760, Eureka, MO 63025 (Rabon); and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 (Chamberlain). kbrzes1@lsu.edu.
2
From the School of Renewable Natural Resources, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (Brzeski and Taylor); Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803 (DeBiasse); Endangered Wolf Center, P.O. Box 760, Eureka, MO 63025 (Rabon); and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602 (Chamberlain).

Abstract

The taxonomic status of the red wolf (Canis rufus) is heavily debated, but could be clarified by examining historic specimens from the southeastern United States. We analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 3 ancient (350-1900 year olds) putative wolf samples excavated from middens and sinkholes within the historic red wolf range. We detected 3 unique mtDNA haplotypes, which grouped with the coyote mtDNA clade, suggesting that the canids inhabiting southeastern North America prior to human colonization from Europe were either coyotes, which would vastly expand historic coyote distributions, an ancient coyote-wolf hybrid, or a North American evolved red wolf lineage related to coyotes. Should the red wolf prove to be a distinct species, our results support the idea of either an ancient hybrid origin for red wolves or a shared common ancestor between coyotes and red wolves.

KEYWORDS:

Canis latrans; Canis rufus; ancient DNA; coyote; hybrid; red wolf.

PMID:
26774058
PMCID:
PMC4885236
DOI:
10.1093/jhered/esw002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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