This study examined the genetic nature and relatedness of Canis latrans (Coyotes) in eastern Massachusetts (i.e., eastern Coyotes). We characterized 67 animals at the mitochondrial DNA control region, and 55 of those at 8 microsatellite loci. Structure analysis and factorial correspondence analysis of the microsatellite genotypes indicated that the eastern Coyotes in Massachusetts clustered with other northeastern Canis populations and away from western Coyotes, C. lycaon (Eastern Wolves), and C. lupus (Gray Wolves). They contained mitochondrial haplotypes from both western Coyotes and Eastern Wolves, consistent with their hybrid origin from these two species. There was no evidence of either C. lupus familiaris (Domestic Dog) or Gray Wolf mitochondrial DNA in the animals. These results indicate that the eastern Coyote should more appropriately be termed “Coywolf” to reflect their hybrid (C. latrans x lycaon) origin. Genetic data were also used to assess parental and kinship relationships, and confirmed that family units typically contain an unrelated breeding pair and their offspring. Lastly, a synthesis of knowledge of the eastern Coyote as well as implications for Wolf recovery in the northeast US is provided.
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