Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
|Species:||Canis latrans x Canis lupus|
Many eastern coyotes (Canis latrans "var.") are coywolves, a canid hybrid, which despite having a majority of coyote (Canis latrans) ancestry, also descend from wolves, either the gray wolf (Canis lupus) or the red wolf (Canis lupus rufus, formerly Canis rufus). They come from a constantly evolving gene pool and are viewed by some scientists as an emerging species. The genetic composition of these animals is debated among scientists.
A study showed that of 100 coyotes collected in Maine, 22 had half or more grey wolf ancestry, and one was 89 percent grey wolf. A theory has been proposed that the large eastern "coyotes" in Canada are actually hybrids of the smaller western coyotes and grey wolves that met and mated decades ago as the coyotes moved toward New England from their earlier western ranges.
The red wolf
The red wolf is a subspecies of the grey wolf. Strong evidence for hybridization was found through genetic testing which showed that red wolves have only 5% of their alleles unique from either gray wolves or coyotes. Genetic distance calculations have indicated that red wolves are intermediate between coyotes and grey wolves, and that they bear great similarity to wolf–coyote hybrids in southern Quebec and Minnesota. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA showed that existing red-wolf populations are predominantly coyote in origin. However, other scientific evidence may point to the species being evolved from a common ancestor of the Coyote and Eastern Wolf which would explain a similar DNA.
Eastern coyotes in Ontario
On 31 March 2010, a presentation by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources research scientist Brent Patterson outlined key findings that most coyotes in Eastern Ontario are wolf-coyote hybrids and the Eastern wolves in Algonquin Park are, in general, not inter-breeding with coyotes.
Hybridizations between southern coyotes and Mexican Grey wolves
In an evolutionary biology research conducted by a team of researchers in the Uppsala University, analysis of controlled-region haplotypes of the mitochondrial DNA and sex chromosomes from Mexican grey wolves detected the presence of coyote markers in some of the wolves. However, these markers were not detected in any of the captive Mexican grey wolves. This study suggests that when the subspecies was depleted in the wild from persecutions, some of the male wolves from the remnant populations began seeking potential mates in the female coyotes with the female coywolf hybrid offsprings later backcrossing to other male wolves while the male hybrids may have backcrossed with the female coyotes. Analysis on the haplotypes from coyotes in Texas also detected the presence of male wolf introgression such as Y-chromosomes from the grey wolves in some of the male coyotes. In an extremely rare case, the study found that one coyote out of seventy individuals from Texas was discovered to carry a mtDNA haplotype derived from a female Mexican grey wolf implicating that a male coyote had also managed to breed with a female Mexican grey wolf in the wild. The Mexican grey wolves may be the only grey wolf subspecies in the southern states besides the domestic and feral dogs to have hybridized with coyotes.
In one cryptology investigation on a corpse of what was initially labelled as a chupacabra, examinations conducted by the UC Davis team and the Texas State University concluded based on the sex chromosomes that the male animal was in fact another coyote and wolf hybrid sired by a male Mexican wolf.
Coywolves have the wolf characteristics of pack hunting and the coyote characteristic of lack of fear of human-developed areas. They seem to be bolder and more intelligent than regular coyotes.
- Taylor Mitchell, a victim of a fatal coyote or coywolf attack
- Vyhnak, Carola (Aug 15, 2009). "Meet the coywolf". Toronto Star. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
- Chambers, Steven M. (Jun 2010). "A Perspective on the Genetic Composition of Eastern Coyotes". Northeastern Naturalist: 205–210. doi:10.1656/045.017.0203. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
- Oosthoek, Sharon (February 23, 2008). "The decline, fall and return of the red wolf". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- Zimmerman, David. "Eastern Coyotes Are Becoming Coywolves". Caledonian-Record. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- "The red wolf (Canis rufus) – hybrid or not?" (PDF). Montana State University. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- Lee, Philip. "North America's Lone Wolf Unmasked". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2012-09-06.
- Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - Eastern Wolf
- [dead link]
- Carola, Vyhnak (August 15, 2009). "Meet the coywolf". Toronto Star. Torstar. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- The complicated science of studying coyotes and hybrid species: Mysteries That Howl and Hunt
- Interbreeding Threatens Rare Species, Experts Say
- Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research http://www.easterncoyoteresearch.com/
- Jonathan Way's Eastern Coyote Webpage https://www2.bc.edu/~wayjo/