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This study assessed whether living Mexican wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) are hybrids resulting from breeding of native wolves and domestic dogs of Native American origin. Previous genetic studies of Mexican wolves had concluded that hybridization with dogs has been negligible to nonexistent. However, those studies compared Mexican wolves and European dog breeds rather than dogs of Native American origin (i.e. brought by native people who crossed the Bering Land Bridge approximately 12,000 – 14,000 years ago). In our analysis we combined three data sets of 172,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms per data set (SNP, Fitak 2014; Cronin et al. 2015; and Shannon et al. 2015). Our results were consistent with previous studies: living Mexican wolves are not derived from hybridization with Native American dogs. The results also did not indicate recent hybridization between Mexican wolves and coyotes. However, one wolf-dog hybrid was detected in wolves from Idaho. Our study used captive-reared Mexican wolves, therefor future analyses of wild-born wolves and dogs living in the same areas are needed to determine if hybridization is occurring in the wild population of Mexican wolves in Mexico, New Mexico and Arizona.
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