21 Mai 2017
11:00 - 12:00
Großer Saal

Nordöstliche Kojoten/Coywolf (Canis latrans × C. lycaon) Taxonomie und Vermischung

Taxonomic Implications of Body Mass and Genetic Differences with Western Coyotes (C. latrans), and Eastern Wolves (C. lycaon or C. lupus lycaon)


The eastern coyote or coywolf (Canis latrans × C. lycaon) inhabiting northeastern North America resulted from hybridization or cladogamy (the crossing between any given clades) between the expanding population of the western coyote (Canis latrans) and the eastern wolf (C. lycaon or C. lupus lycaon) and domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris or Canis familiaris) in the early 20th century. Although hybridization clearly created the northeastern coyote, there is currently little genetic input from its parental species across the majority of its northeastern North American (e.g. the New England states) range except in areas where they overlap, such as southeastern Canada, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the mid-Atlantic area. Body mass and genetic data support the distinctiveness of the northeastern coyote/coywolf. One, northeastern coyotes (males = 16.5 kg; females = 14.7 kg) were statistically (P < 0.0001) intermediate in mass between western Coyotes (males = 12.2 kg; females = 10.7 kg) and Eastern Wolves (males = 28.2 kg, females = 23.7 kg), consistent with their hybrid origin, but were numerically closer to western coyotes. In practical biological terms, eastern wolves were 61–71 % heavier than the same sex in the northeastern coyotes, which in turn were ca. 35–37 % heavier than the same sex in the western coyotes. Two, 6 of 17 (35.3%) adult female northeastern coyotes captured in Massachusetts weighed ≥18 kg, heavier than any other described coyote from outside northeastern North America. Body mass (kg) and mtDNA haplotype data of 53 northeastern coyotes (males = 28, females = 25) showed no difference between haplotype and body mass for males (P < 0.852) or females (P < 0.128), suggesting that there is not a particular haplotype (e.g., C1) that is associated with the heavier animals. The northeastern coyote has roughly 60% genetic influence from coyote, 30% wolf and 10% domestic dog. Given its mixed species origin and morphological and genetic uniqueness, the most appropriate name for this animal is “coywolf”, which accounts for its two main genetic influences (i.e. coyotes and wolves) in portmanteau order; this name still applies even with the relatively small amount of dog introgression in its genome since dogs are essentially domesticated grey wolves and dog DNA is found in many other wild Canis species including grey wolf populations. Coywolves are distinct, being larger than in any other population of Coyotes but smaller than Eastern Wolves. The fact that the coywolf is clearly morphologically and genetically different to any other described population of Canis should qualify the animal for species status.  We suggest that they be scientifically classified as Canis oriens, meaning “east”, or more specifically “eastern canid”, in Latin.  This nomenclature gives them a distinct stand-alone name separating them from their parental Canis species/types and the associated relative amounts of latrans, lycaon, lupus, and domestic dog genes contributing to their hybrid background. I propose that the 5 distinct types of Canis be recognized as: western Ccoyotes, coywolves, red (C. rufus) and eastern wolves, gray × eastern or eastern × gray wolf hybrids (also called ‘Great Lakes’ Wolves; C. lupus × C. lycaon or C. lycaon × C. lupus), and gray (western) wolves (C. lupus).