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Monday, January 29 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
CARNIVORES: Determining Coyote-Wolf Hybridization in Minnesota and Wisconsin by Using Mitochondrial DNA

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AUTHORS. Taylor Soto, Dr. Kevyn Juneau - University of Wisconsin-River Falls

ABSTRACT. The ongoing argument over the evolutionary history and genetic composition of Canid populations within North America has become primarily relevant to the conservation and management of coyotes and wolves. Over a century ago, the over-harvesting of wolves led to the hybridization between Eastern wolves and Western coyotes in the Northeastern region of the United States, resulting in the coyote-wolf hybrid, the coywolf. Current research suggests that coywolves are highly adaptable and found across various regions of North America. The focus of this research is to use PCR-RFLPs (restriction fragment length polymorphism) to determine if coywolves are present in Minnesota and Wisconsin. A restriction site and a length difference in the control region of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) was used to differentiate wolf and coyote haplotypes; the restriction site is present in wolves but not coyotes. The DNA was extracted using a QIAGEN DNeasy kit, then PCR was run with a primer pair constructed from the coyote and wolf sequences (Wiley et al. 1998). Specimens were gathered from different regions of the two states by collecting buccal, hair and tissue samples from taxidermists, roadkill and rehabilitation centers. During the pilot study we have found that the coyotes collected do not possess wolf ancestry in the mtDNA. Due to the findings of the initial study further research will be done by expanding the project from 10 to over 100 coyote samples. Future research will be focused on using this method so we can determine if hybridized coyotes are present in Minnesota and Wisconsin without directly interfering with wild populations.

Monday January 29, 2018 2:00pm - 2:20pm CST