Reviving Ghost Alleles: The Importance of Admixed Canids Along the American Gulf Coast for Saving the Endangered Red Wolf

The Wolf Conservation Center hosted Drs. Kristin E. Brzeski, Bridgett M. vonHoldt, and Joey W. Hinton on September 15, 2022 at 6 pm ET for an informative discussion about their work to better understand canids along the Gulf Coast.

Their research along coastal Texas and Louisiana documented significant but unexplained red wolf ancestry in coyote-like canids. They detected 38-69% of the canid genomes contained red wolf ancestry acquired in the past 30 years and wolf ancestry was positively correlated with bigger canids. One out of four canids in their study had genomes consisting of at least 50% red wolf ancestry. Here, they discussed their research findings, the importance of these canid populations for red wolf recovery, local support for protecting these unique populations, and future directions for their research in the region.

About The Speakers:

Kristin Credit

Kristin is an Assistant Professor in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University, where her lab’s research focuses on wildlife genetics, conservation, and management. Dr. Brzeski has been conducting red wolf conservation science since her PhD and is leading the initiative to understand the genetic ancestry and ecology of the unique Gulf Coast canid population. In addition to her canid research, Dr. Brzeski is a co-founder of Biodiversity Initiative, an NGO that works to conserve biodiversity. Currently, her team is working with local conservation practitioners to monitor and protect endemic Central Africa wildlife.

Bridgett Credit Sm

Bridgett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. Her research program investigates genomic signatures of demographic events, namely admixture and selection with a focus on wild and domestic species. Her program integrates computational and molecular approaches to connect evolutionary history with applications in fields of wildlife management, companion animal health, and endangered species policy. Her research has shaped species protections with updated genomic perspectives and contributed significant insights regarding behavioral evolution of the domestic dog.

WCC Senior Research Scientist Dr. Joey Hinton

Joey is a wildlife ecologist with the Wolf Conservation Center where he serves as the Senior Research Scientist. His research background focuses on the conservation and management of canids, specifically red wolves and coyotes, but also includes dabbling in some ungulate research. Joey’s ongoing projects include the ecology and conservation of the reintroduced red wolf population in northeastern North Carolina, the ecology and management of coyotes in the southeastern United States, and the ecology and management of moose in the Adirondack Park of northern New York.