Subspecies of Canis lupus

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Skull of a European wolf
Skull of a Canadian wolf
Original distribution of wolf subspecies
Present distribution of wolf subspecies (without domestic dogs)

Canis lupus has 40 subspecies currently described, including the dingo, Canis lupus dingo, and the domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris, and many subspecies of wolf throughout the Northern hemisphere. The nominate subspecies is Canis lupus lupus.

Canis lupus is assessed as Least Concern by the IUCN, as its relatively widespread range and stable population trend mean that the species, at global level, does not meet, or nearly meet, any of the criteria for the threatened categories. However, some local populations are classified as Endangered,[1] and some subspecies are endangered or extinct.

Biological taxonomy is not fixed, and placement of taxa is reviewed as a result of new research. The current categorization of subspecies of Canis lupus is shown below. Also included are synonyms, which are now discarded duplicate or incorrect namings, or in the case of the domestic dog synonyms, old taxa referring to subspecies of domestic dog which, when the dog was declared a subspecies itself, had nowhere else to go. Common names are given but may vary, as they have no set meaning.

Geographical variations[edit]

Wolves show a great deal of polymorphism geographically, though they can interbreed. The Zoological Gardens of London for example once successfully managed to mate a male European wolf to an Indian female, resulting in a pup bearing an almost exact likeness to its sire.[2]

Europe[edit]

European wolves tend to have fur with less soft wool intermixed than American wolves. Their heads are narrower, their ears longer, higher placed and somewhat closer to each other. Their loins are more slender, their legs longer, their feet narrower, and their tails more thinly clothed with fur.[3] Pelt colour in European wolves ranges from white, cream, red, grey and black, sometimes with all colours combined. Wolves in central Europe tend to be more richly coloured than those in Northern Europe. Eastern European wolves tend to be shorter and more heavily built than Northern Russian ones.[4]

North America[edit]

North American wolves are generally the same size as European wolves, but have shorter legs, larger, rounder heads, broader, more obtuse muzzles, and a sensible depression at the union of nose and forehead, which is more arched and broad. Their ears are shorter and have a more conical form. They typically lack the black mark on the forelegs, as is the case in European races. They have long and comparatively fine fur, mixed with a shorter wooly hair, and are more robust.[3] Fur colour in American wolves ranges from white, black, red, yellow, brown, grey, and grizzled skins, and others representing every shade between, although usually each locality has its prevailing tint. There are pronounced differences in North American wolves of different localities; wolves from Texas and New Mexico are comparatively slim animals with small teeth.[5] Mexican wolves in particular resemble some European wolves in stature, though their heads are usually broader, their necks thicker, their ears longer and their tails shorter.[6] Wolves of the central and northern chains of the Rocky Mountains and coastal ranges are more formidable animals than the more southern plains wolves, and resemble Russian and Scandinavian wolves in size and proportions.[5]

List of subspecies[edit]

Canis lupus subspecies[edit]

Subspecies as of 2005:[7]

Subspecies Authority Description Range Synonyms
Eurasian wolf
Canis lupus lupus (nominate subspecies)

Canis lupus lupus qtl1.jpg

Linnaeus 1758[8] Generally a large subspecies measuring 105–160 cm in length and weighing 40–80 kg. The pelt is usually a mix of rusty ocherous and light grey.[9] Has the largest range among wolf subspecies and is the most common in Europe and Asia, ranging through Western Europe, Scandinavia, Caucasus, Russia, China, Mongolia, and the Himalayan Mountains. Habitat overlaps with Iranian Wolf in some regions of Turkey. altaicus (Noack, 1911), argunensis (Dybowski, 1922), canus (Sélys Longchamps, 1839), communis (Dwigubski, 1804), deitanus (Cabrera, 1907), desertorum (Bogdanov, 1882), flavus (Kerr, 1792), fulvus (Sélys Longchamps, 1839), italicus (Altobello, 1921), kurjak (Bolkay, 1925), lycaon (Trouessart, 1910), major (Ogérien, 1863), minor (Ogerien, 1863), niger (Hermann, 1804), orientalis (Wagner, 1841), orientalis (Dybowski, 1922), signatus (Cabrera, 1907)[10]
Tundra wolf
Canis lupus albus

Волк 3.jpg

Kerr 1792[11] A large subspecies, with adults measuring 112–137 cm, and weighing 36.6–52 kg. The fur is very long, dense, fluffy and soft and is usually very light and grey in colour. The lower fur is lead-grey and the upper fur is reddish-grey.[9] Northern tundra and forest zones in the European and Asian parts of Russia and Kamchatka. Outside Russia, its range includes the extreme north of Scandinavia[9] dybowskii (Domaniewski, 1926), kamtschaticus (Dybowski, 1922),

turuchanensis (Ognev, 1923)[12]

Kenai Peninsula wolf
Canis lupus alces
Goldman 1941[13] A large wolf measuring over 200 cm in length and weighing 45–90 kg. It is thought that its large size was an adaptation to hunting the extremely large moose of the Kenai Peninsula.[14] Kenai Peninsula
Arabian wolf
Canis lupus arabs

Canis lupus arabic.JPG

Pocock 1934[15] A small, "desert adapted" wolf that is around 66 cm tall and weighs, on average, about 18 kg.[16] Its fur coat varies from short in the summer and long in the winter, possibly because of solar radiation.[17] Southern Israel, Southern and western Iraq, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and probably some parts of the Sinai Peninsula
Arctic wolf
Canis lupus arctos

Canis lupus arctos qtl1.jpg

Pocock 1935[18] A medium sized wolf that is between 64 and 79 cm tall and 89 to 189 cm long, weighing between 35 and 45 kg on average, though there have been specimens found weighing up to 68 kg.[19][20] Canadian Arctic, Alaska and northern Greenland
Mexican wolf
Canis lupus baileyi

Mexican Wolf 065.jpg

Nelson and Goldman 1929[21] A small subspecies which weighs 25–45 kg and measures 140–170 cm in total length (nose to tip of tail), and 72–80 cm in shoulder height. The pelt contains a mix of grey, black, brown, and rust colors in a characteristic pattern, with white underparts[22] Northern Mexico, western Texas, southern New Mexico, and southeastern and central Arizona[22]
Newfoundland wolf
Canis lupus beothucus

Stuffed Newfoundland wolf.jpg

G. M. Allen and Barbour 1937 A white coloured subspecies, extinct in 1911, typically measuring 180 cm in length and weighing 45 kg[14] Newfoundland
Bernard's wolf
Canis lupus bernardi
Anderson 1943 This subspecies became extinct in 1934. It was described as "white with black-tipped hair along the ridge of the back".[23] Limited to Banks and Victoria Islands in the arctic banksianus (Anderson, 1943)[24]
Steppe wolf
Canis lupus campestris
Dwigubski 1804 A wolf of average size with short, coarse and sparse fur. The fur is light grey on the sides and rusty, brownish grey on the back[9] Northern Ukraine, southern Kazakhstan, Caucasus and Trans-Caucasus[9] bactrianus (Laptev, 1929), cubanenesis (Ognev, 1923), desertorum (Bogdanov, 1882)[25]
Tibetan wolf
Canis lupus chanco

Canis lupus chanco1.jpg

Gray 1863 A small subspecies rarely exceeding 45 kg in weight. It is of a light, whitish-grey colour, with an admixture of brownish tones on the upper part of the body[9] Central Asia from Turkestan, Tien Shan throughout Tibet to Mongolia, Northern China, Shensi, Sichuan, Yunnan, the Western Himalayas in Kashmir from Chitral to Lahul.[26] Also occurs in the Korean peninsula[27] coreanus (Abe, 1923), dorogostaiskii (Skalon, 1936), ekloni (Przewalski, 1883), filchneri (Matschie, 1907), karanorensis (Matschie, 1907), laniger (Hodgson, 1847), niger (Sclater, 1874), tschiliensis (Matschie, 1907)[28]
British Columbia wolf
Canis lupus columbianus
Goldman 1941 Yukon, British Columbia, and Alberta
Vancouver Island wolf
Canis lupus crassodon

VIslandWolf.JPG

Hall 1932 A medium sized subspecies, it is generally greyish-white or white in fur color. It is a very social subspecies and can usually be found roaming in packs of five to thirty-five individuals.[29] Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Dingo
Canis lupus dingo

Dingo-australian zoo.jpg

Meyer 1793 Generally 52–60 cm tall at the shoulders and measures 117 to 124 cm from nose to tail tip. The average weight is 13 to 20 kg.[30] Descended from feral domesticated dogs, but has evolved into a quite wild animal over much of its range. Fur color is mostly sandy to reddish brown, but can include tan patterns and be occasionally black, light brown, or white[31] Australia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, New Guinea and Solomon Islands antarcticus (Kerr, 1792), australasiae (Desmarest, 1820), australiae (Gray, 1826), dingoides (Matschie, 1915), macdonnellensis (Matschie, 1915), novaehollandiae (Voigt, 1831), papuensis (Ramsay, 1879), tenggerana (Kohlbrugge, 1896), harappensis (Prashad, 1936), hallstromi (Troughton, 1957)[32]
Domestic dog
Canis lupus familiaris

YellowLabradorLooking new.jpg

Linnaeus 1758 Tends to have a 20% smaller skull and a 30% smaller brain,[33] as well as proportionately smaller teeth than other wolf subspecies[34] The paws of a dog are half the size of those of a wolf, and their tails tend to curl upwards, another trait not found in wolves[16]

Through selective breeding by humans, the dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds, and shows more behavioral and morphological variation than any other land mammal.[35] For example, height measured to the withers ranges from a 6 inches (150 mm) in the Chihuahua to a 3.3 feet (1.0 m) in the Irish Wolfhound; color varies from white through grays (usually called "blue") to black, and browns from light (tan) to dark ("red" or "chocolate") in a wide variation of patterns; coats can be short or long, coarse-haired to wool-like, straight, curly, or smooth.[36] It is common for most breeds to shed this coat.

Worldwide aegyptius (Linnaeus, 1758), alco (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), americanus (Gmelin, 1792), anglicus (Gmelin, 1792), antarcticus (Gmelin, 1792), aprinus (Gmelin, 1792), aquaticus (Linnaeus, 1758), aquatilis (Gmelin, 1792), avicularis (Gmelin, 1792), borealis (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), brevipilis (Gmelin, 1792)

cursorius (Gmelin, 1792) domesticus (Linnaeus, 1758) extrarius (Gmelin, 1792), ferus (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), fricator (Gmelin, 1792), fricatrix (Linnaeus, 1758), fuillus (Gmelin, 1792), gallicus (Gmelin, 1792), glaucus (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), graius (Linnaeus, 1758), grajus (Gmelin, 1792), hagenbecki (Krumbiegel, 1950), haitensis (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), hibernicus (Gmelin, 1792), hirsutus (Gmelin, 1792), hybridus (Gmelin, 1792), islandicus (Gmelin, 1792), italicus (Gmelin, 1792), laniarius (Gmelin, 1792), leoninus (Gmelin, 1792), leporarius (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), major (Gmelin, 1792), mastinus (Linnaeus, 1758), melitacus (Gmelin, 1792), melitaeus (Linnaeus, 1758), minor (Gmelin, 1792), molossus (Gmelin, 1792), mustelinus (Linnaeus, 1758), obesus (Gmelin, 1792), orientalis (Gmelin, 1792), pacificus (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), plancus (Gmelin, 1792), pomeranus (Gmelin, 1792), sagaces (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), sanguinarius (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), sagax (Linnaeus, 1758), scoticus (Gmelin, 1792), sibiricus (Gmelin, 1792), suillus (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), terraenovae (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), terrarius (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), turcicus (Gmelin, 1792), urcani (C. E. H. Smith, 1839), variegatus (Gmelin, 1792), venaticus (Gmelin, 1792), vertegus (Gmelin, 1792)/small>[37]

Florida Black wolf
Canis lupus floridanus
Miller 1912 A jet black wolf that is described as being extremely similar to the Red wolf in both size and weight.[38] This subspecies became extinct in 1908.[39] Florida
Cascade Mountain wolf
Canis lupus fuscus
Richardson 1839 A cinnamon coloured wolf measuring 165 cm and weighing 36–49 kg[14] Cascade Range
Gregory's wolf
Canis lupus gregoryi
Goldman 1937[40] A medium sized subspecies, though slender and tawny, its coat contains a mixture of various colors, including black, grey, white, and cinnamon.[40] In and around the lower Mississippi River basin gigas (Townsend, 1850)[41]
Manitoba wolf
Canis lupus griseoalbus
Baird 1858 North Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba knightii (Anderson, 1945)[42]
Hokkaidō wolf
Canis lupus hattai

エゾオオカミ剥製・開拓記念館19840914.jpg

Kishida 1931 Hokkaidō rex (Pocock, 1935)[43]
Honshū wolf
Canis lupus hodophilax

Honshu-wolf4.jpg

Temminck 1839 Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū hodopylax (Temminck, 1844), japonicus (Nehring, 1885)[44]
Hudson Bay wolf
Canis lupus hudsonicus
Goldman 1941 Northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories
Northern Rocky Mountains wolf
Canis lupus irremotus

Northern Rocky Mountains wolf.jpg

Goldman 1937[40][45] This subspecies generally weighs 70–135 pounds (32–61 kg), making it one of the largest subspecies of the gray wolf in existence.[46] It is a lighter colored animal than its southern brethren, the Southern Rocky Mountains Wolf, with a coat that includes far more white and less black. In general, the subspecies favors lighter colors, with black mixing in among them.[40][47] Northern Rocky Mountains
Labrador wolf
Canis lupus labradorius

Labrador Wolf.jpg

Goldman 1937[40] Labrador and northern Quebec; recent confirmed sightings on Newfoundland[48][49]
Alexander Archipelago wolf
Canis lupus ligoni
Goldman 1937[40] Alexander Archipelago
Eastern (timber) wolf
Canis lupus lycaon

Gray Wolf, Omega Park, QC.jpg

Schreber 1775 Mainly occupies the area in and around Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, and also ventures into adjacent parts of Quebec, Canada. It also may be present in Minnesota and Manitoba canadensis (de Blainville, 1843), ungavensis (Comeau, 1940)[50]
Mackenzie River wolf
Canis lupus mackenzii
Anderson 1943 Northwest Territories
Baffin Island wolf
Canis lupus manningi
Anderson 1943 Baffin Island
Mogollon Mountain wolf
Canis lupus mogollonensis
Goldman 1937[40] A dark coloured wolf measuring 135–150 cm in length, and weighing 27–36 kg[14] Arizona and New Mexico
Texas wolf
Canis lupus monstrabilis
Goldman 1937[40] Similar in size and colour to C. lupus mogollonensis[14] Texas and New Mexico niger (Bartram, 1791)[51]
Buffalo wolf
Canis lupus nubilus
Say 1823 Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Single wolves have been reported in the Dakotas and as far south as Nebraska variabilis (Wied-Neuwied, 1841)[52]
Mackenzie Valley wolf
Canis lupus occidentalis

Lobo en el Zoo de Madrid 01 cropped.jpg

Richardson 1829 Western Canada sticte (Richardson, 1829), ater (Richardson, 1829)[53]
Greenland wolf
Canis lupus orion
Pocock 1935 Greenland
Indian wolf
Canis lupus pallipes

Wolf Islamabad Pakistan.jpg

Sykes 1831 A small wolf with pelage shorter than that of northern wolves, and with little to no underfur.[54] Fur colour ranges from greyish red to reddish white with black tips. The dark V shaped stripe over the shoulders is much more pronounced than in northern wolves. The underparts and legs are more or less white.[55] Western India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and southern Israel
Yukon wolf
Canis lupus pambasileus
Elliot 1905 Alaska and Yukon
Red wolf
formerly Canis lupus rufus now Canis rufus

07-03-23RedWolfAlbanyGAChehaw.jpg

Audubon and Bachman 1851 Has a brownish or cinnamon pelt, with grey and black shading on the back and tail. Generally intermediate in size between other American wolf subspecies and coyotes. Like other wolves, it has almond-shaped eyes, a broad muzzle and a wide nosepad, though like the coyote, its ears are proportionately larger. It has a deeper profile, a longer and broader head than the coyote, and has a less prominent ruff than wolves[56] Eastern North Carolina[57]
Alaskan tundra wolf
Canis lupus tundrarum
Miller 1912 Has heavier dentition than pambasileus Alaska
Southern Rocky Mountains wolf
Canis lupus youngi
Goldman 1937[40] A medium-size wolf that weighed around 90 lbs on average.[58][59] It is considered to have been the "second largest wolf in the United States".[60] The coloring of the subspecies tended toward black, with lighter areas on the edges of its fur and white in various small patches.[40] Southern Rocky Mountains

Disputed subspecies and species[edit]

Italian (Apennine) Wolf from the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio e Molise
Iberian Wolves

Two subspecies not mentioned in the list above are the Italian Wolf (Canis lupus italicus) and the Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus). The wolves of the Italian and Iberian peninsulas have morphologically distinct features from other Eurasian wolves and each are considered by their researchers to represent their own subspecies.[61][62][63]

The genetic distinction of the Italian wolf subspecies was recently supported by analysis which consistently assigned all the wolf genotypes of a sample in Italy to a single group. This population also showed a unique mitochondrial DNA control-region haplotype, the absence of private alleles and lower heterozygosity at microsatellite loci, as compared to other wolf populations.[64]

Recent genetic research suggests that the Indian Wolf populations in the Indian subcontinent may represent a distinct species from their conspecifics. Similar results were obtained for the Himalayan wolf, which is traditionally placed under the Tibetan wolf (Canis lupus chanco).[65]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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