We describe the external morphological characters of red wolves, coyotes, and their hybrids from North Carolina and assess if morphology could be an accurate discriminator among the 3 canid taxa. We used body measurements from 171 red wolves (Canis rufus), 134 coyotes (Canis latrans), and 47 hybrids in a polytomous logistic regression analysis to assess if they could be used to identify canids as red wolves, coyotes, or hybrids. Polytomous logistic regression analysis of 7 morphometric variables was able to correctly allocate 86% of canids to their a priori taxa groups. Using Akaike's information criterion, we judged hind-foot length, body mass, width of head, and tail length as variables to best separate taxa. Among the 3 sympatric Canis taxa in eastern North Carolina, red wolves are clearly the larger canid with hybrids intermediate to coyotes and red wolves in body size. Our results suggest that red wolves represent a unique Canis phenotype in the southeastern United States.
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Vol. 95 • No. 4