Promoting wolf conservation since 1999

Eastern Coyote Genetics: What's a Coywolf?

Javier Monzon 2

There is a wild hybrid canid living in the eastern United States, and it is the result of evolution occurring right under our noses! Over the years these dynamic canids have acquired a number of nicknames. Both "Coywolf" and “Coydog” have been growing in popularity, however, the majority of the scientific community prefer the less flashy moniker: “Eastern Coyote.” It's no surprise that "wolf" and "dog" have been woven into the identity of wild canids in the region, current science indicates a number of species are represented within the genome of the eastern coyote.  Ecologist and evolutionary biologist Javier Monzón, previously at Stony Brook University in New York, now at Pepperdine University in California, analyzed the DNA of 437 eastern coyotes and found the genes contain all three canids -- dog, wolf and coyote. According to Monzón's research, about 64% of the eastern coyote's genome is coyote (Canis latrans), 13% gray wolf (Canis lupus), 13% Eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), and 10% dog (Canis familiaris). Sounds like a recipe for canis soup!

1 Monzón, J., Kays, R., Dykhuizen, D.E., 2014. Assessment of coyote-wolf-dog admixture using ancestry-informative diagnosticSNPs. Molecular Ecology vol 23: 182–197.