Data from: Describing a developing hybrid zone between red wolves and coyotes in eastern North Carolina, USA
Bohling, Justin H. et al. (2016), Data from: Describing a developing hybrid zone between red wolves and coyotes in eastern North Carolina, USA, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g8j01
When hybridizing species come into contact, understanding the processes that regulate their interactions can help predict the future outcome of the system. This is especially relevant in conservation situations where human activities can influence hybridization dynamics. We investigated a developing hybrid zone between red wolves and coyotes in North Carolina, USA to elucidate patterns of hybridization in a system heavily managed for preservation of the red wolf genome. Using noninvasive genetic sampling of scat, we surveyed a 2880 km2 region adjacent to the Red Wolf Experimental Population Area (RWEPA). We combined microsatellite genotypes collected from this survey with those from companion studies conducted both within and outside the RWEPA to describe the gradient of red wolf ancestry. A total of 311 individuals were genotyped at 17 loci and red wolf ancestry decreased along an east–west gradient across the RWEPA. No red wolves were found outside the RWEPA, yet half of individuals found within this area were coyotes. Hybrids composed only 4% of individuals within this landscape despite co-occurrence of the two species throughout the RWEPA. The low proportion of hybrids suggests that a combination of active management and natural isolating mechanisms may be limiting intermixing within this hybrid system.