Isolated wolves more prone to hybridizing with other Canis

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Tiantai
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Isolated wolves more prone to hybridizing with other Canis

Post by Tiantai » Sun Oct 05, 2014 9:38 pm

Apparently it has been suggested for years that several isolated gray wolf populations in Europe and parts of Asia actually have a history of mixing with domestic dogs. While the results vary from these domestic introgressions, many biologists have acknowledged that wolfdog admixture can be BOTH beneficial and at the same time consequential depending on the situation as well as the types of dog breeds mixed into the wolves. The article also mentions the situation with Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis) and how they, too, are prone to hybridizing with dogs.

Here's the link:
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/articl ... ne.0086409

Also notice how it parallels the hybridizations between wolves with coyotes and golden jackals of North America and parts of Africa and Europe respectively. One of the most common similarities with these natural hybridizations is that they seem to occur more often with isolated wolf populations.
Examples:

(1) Mexican gray wolf x southern-Texan coyote (Canis lupus baileyi x Canis latrans texensis) hybridizations in the south-central USA, one of these cases was also brought up to the UC Davis with a confirmed coyote-Mexican gray wolf hybrid from Cuero

(2) African gray wolf x Senegalese golden jackal (Canis lupus lupaster x Canis aureus anthus) from northern-central Africa, the former of which was previously thought to be a jackal species until mtDNA analysis in 2011 showed that it was in fact an old clade of the earlier Canis lupus, albeit a smaller race that had adapted to the hot climate.

(3) red wolf x Great Plains coyote (Canis rufus x Canis latrans latrans), the former whose population was endemic to the southeastern USA and was severely depleted from persecution which led to the latter swamping into the wolves' genepool.

(4) eastern timber wolf x north-midwestern coyote (Canis lycaon x Canis latrans thamnos), it has been suggested that the hybridizations originated in the outskirts of Algonquin Provincial Park and possibly around the eastern Great Lakes region and into the Adirondack

(5) Bulgarian Eurasian wolf x European golden jackal (Canis lupus lupus x Canis aureus moreoticus). Domestic dogs may had also been involved in this case.

Overall, I think this does suggest that natural boundaries between different Canis populations can be thinned out easily from human impacts on the ecosystem in order to compensate for population depletion of one or both species in the wild. Wolves living in stable populations are less likely to mix with dogs or other Canis but those from smaller isolated populations are more prone to crossbreeding on the basis of a lack of genetic diversity. But while the hybridizations have somewhat proved beneficial for the red, eastern timber, and possibly some historical Mexican wolves in North America, the exact pros and cons of the wolfdog hybridizations on Iberian and Italian wolves are not so clear-cut at this moment.
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