Genome-Wide Analysis of SNPs Is Consistent with No Domestic Dog Ancestry in the Endangered Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)

Fitak, Robert R.
Rinkevich, Sarah E.
Culver, Melanie
Journal of Heredity
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The Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) was historically distributed throughout the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Extensive predator removal campaigns during the early 20th century, however, resulted in its eventual extirpation by the mid 1980s. At this time, the Mexican wolf existed only in 3 separate captive lineages (McBride, Ghost Ranch, and Aragón) descended from 3, 2, and 2 founders, respectively. These lineages were merged in 1995 to increase the available genetic variation, and Mexican wolves were reintroduced into Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. Despite the ongoing management of the Mexican wolf population, it has been suggested that a proportion of the Mexican wolf ancestry may be recently derived from hybridization with domestic dogs. In this study, we genotyped 87 Mexican wolves, including individuals from all 3 captive lineages and cross-lineage wolves, for more than 172000 single nucleotide polymorphisms. We identified levels of genetic variation consistent with the pedigree record and effects of genetic rescue. To identify the potential to detect hybridization with domestic dogs, we compared our Mexican wolf genotypes with those from studies of domestic dogs and other gray wolves. The proportion of Mexican wolf ancestry assigned to domestic dogs was only between 0.06% (SD 0.23%) and 7.8% (SD 1.0%) for global and local ancestry estimates, respectively; and was consistent with simulated levels of incomplete lineage sorting. Overall, our results suggested that Mexican wolves lack biologically significant ancestry with dogs and have useful implications for the conservation and management of this endangered wolf subspecies.
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Journal Issue/Article
University of Arizona

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