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Red Wolf Debate: Continuing Recovery of an Important Predator By: Cody Bear, Andrew Meyers, and Tyler Vent
Species Background • Size between coyote and gray wolf • Gray and black fur mixed with red • Live in packs • Diet consists of rabbits, birds, rodents, white-tailed deer, and carrion (Crawford et al.) animal.discovery.com/tv/night/animals-after-dark/red-wolf.html
History • Historically found in SE US from central Texas to east coast and from Gulf of Mexico to Ohio River Valley (Crawford et al.) • Declined after 1900 due to habitat destruction, predator control programs, and hybridization • Declared endangered in 1967 and a captive breeding program began in 1974 (Nowak et al. 1995)
History • Declared extinct in wild in 1980 • Reintroduced to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge North Carolina in 1987 (Crawford et al.) hydecounty.org
Controversial Topics • Social issues • Is there enough habitat? • Are red wolves a distinct species? • Ecological function • Hybridization with coyotes
Social Issues: Cons • Threat to livestock and pets • Cost of reintroduction and protection • Negative perceptions of wolves scenicreflections.com
Social Issues: Pros Creates jobs Howling trips, captive wolf center, and other activities Public funding (Lash and Black 2005) Scientific research • Low attack rates on livestock • Private land owners allowed to kill wolves to protect livestock, pets, and other humans • Ecotourism
Habitat • Habitat generalists • Require large tracts of land • Prefer habitat relatively free of human development • Require high abundance of prey
Habitat: Current Range • Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge (ARNWR) in northeastern North Carolina. • 120,000 acres • Lies adjacent to 51,135 acres of land owned by Department of Defense (Phillips et al. 2003) • Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge 110,000 acres added in 1990 (Phillips et al. 2003) • Remote, abundant prey, small number of coyotes and livestock, and proximity to ARNWR http://www.stateparks.com/alligator_river.html
Habitat • Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge on Bulls island (64,000 acres) (Phillips et al. 2003) • Was used in breeding program • Other protected areas along the east coast http://www.seakayakcarolina.com/seakayak-carolina-guide-Garris-to-Bull-Island.html http://www.basic.ncsu.edu/ncgap/LandManagement.html
The Species Debate • Outline • The old distinct species argument • The coyote-wolf hybrid argument • The new distinct Eastern Wolf argument What am I?!? tenan.vuurwerk.nl
Distinct Species • Analysis of the fossil record by Nowak (1979) • Concluded red wolf first appeared 1 MYA, in the Pleistocene • Coyote and the grey wolf appeared after. Thus the red wolf is the ancestor of the other two species
Nowak 1992 Cranial measurements of adult male skulls.
Distinct Species • Nowak (1979)hypothesized cause of hybridization with coyotes is because of low pop. numbers. • Grey wolves with coyote mtDNAexperienced no change in morphology, behavior, or ecology (Mech et al. 1970). • As seen on Isle Royale in 100% of wolf population (Lehman et al. 1991). keweenawnow.blogspot.com
Coyote-Grey Wolf Hybrid • Originated as coyote-grey wolf hybrid (Wayne 1991). • Nowak's cranial data show red wolf is a hybrid • If two species crossbred, one would expect the phenotype detected (Wayne 1995) JON WAY/EASTERNCOYOTERESEARCH.COM
Coyote-Grey Wolf Hybrid • After extensive genetic evaluation, Wayne (1995) concluded that there were no differences in mtDNA that supported red wolves being anything but a coyote-grey wolf hybrid. true-wildlife.blogspot.com
Coyote-Grey Wolf Hybrid • All microsatellites carried by red wolves are found in coyotes/grey wolves. • also supports hybrid theory • Hybridization happened at low grey wolf population levels, eventually creating distinct lineage (Wayne 1995). • Estimated: 0 to 2500 years ago by: (Reich 1998)
Newest Theory (Distinct Species) • Wilson et al. (2000) supports new theory that the red wolf is subspecies of a Eastern Canadian wolf • Eastern wolf (CanisLycaon)
Newest Theory (Distinct Species) • Based off of extensive genetic reviews taking into account the Eastern wolf • unlike Wayne (1992) • Wilson et al. (2003) also supports the distinct evolution of an Eastern wolf species.
Conclusion: ESA • 38 subspecies/populations were listed in 1992 • Including Florida panther and the grizzly population in the lower 48 (Nowak 1992) . • Recent interpretations of the ESA imply that a species may be covered, even if it has experienced genetic introgression from another species (Henry 1992).
Conclusion • No matter what side of the species argument the authors were on they all supported continued reintroduction • Wayne (1995) said “Captive breeding of thered wolf may have preserved unique physical characteristics or behaviors not revealed in the studies done so far. More important, such qualities may not be easily regenerated through the mating of modern gray wolves and coyotes.”
Conclusion • The Red wolf population seems to be at least an Evolutionary Significant Unit and reintroduction should be continued no matter what the species definition is • Wayne (1995) “the red wolf may be the last, albeit impure, repository of genes from a now extinct gray wolf subspecies and as suchshould certainly be preserved.”
Red Wolf: Top Predator • From end of Pleistocene to late 1800s no coyotes or western grey wolves in SE U.S. (IUCN, Nowak 2002) • Coyotes expanded range following human disturbance and agricultural expansion (IUCN, Nowak 2002) jpf002.blogspot.com
Red Wolf: Top Predator • Nowak (2002) used historic skulls from late 1800s & early 1900s • Suggests that Eastern wolf and red wolf invaded eastern U. S. from north • Red wolf lone apex predator in region
Red Wolf: Top Predator • Western grey wolf shown to have ecological impacts (Ripple et al. 2001) • Red wolf historically and currently functions as a top predator in the east • White tailed deer
Hybridization • Red wolves known to interbreed with coyotes (Kelly et al. 1999) • Danger of losing red wolf genetics • Can only sustain 1 hybrid litter out of 59 to maintain 90% genetic integrity (IUCN) • Tend to breed with their own species (USFWS 2010) • Interbreeding occurs when choice of mates is limited (USFWS 2010, Nowak 1992, Wayne 1995)
Hybridization • How do we deal with it? • Fredrickson et al. (2006) • Performed analysis of impacts of hybridization • Found that… • Hybrids randomly interbreeding with red wolves would lose genetic distinctiveness • Sterilization of hybrids successfully reduced introgression • Long term barriers to hybridization needed
Hybridization • What’s being done? • Adaptive mgmt. plan • Locate hybrids using methods by Adams et al. (2007) • Sterilize or remove • Sterilized hybrids act as a placeholder • Models infer success
Conclusion • Red wolf recovery should have continued support because… • Economic benefit to region • Plenty of habitat • At minimum an ESU • Ecological function • Hybridization can be mitigated • Morally right
Conclusion • Beginning of the ESA states… • “…these species of fish, wildlife, and plants [referring to species listed under the act] are of esthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational, and scientific value to the Nation and its people” (United States Senate 2002)
Literature Cited • Phillips Michael K., V. G. Henry, and B. T. Kelly. 2003. Restoration of the red wolf. University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska. • Stoskopf Michael K., K. Beck, B. B. Fazio, T. K. Fuller, E. M. Gese, B. T. Kelly, F. F. Knowlton, D. L. Murray, W. Waddell, and L. Waits. 2005. Implementing recovery of the red wolf-integrating research scientists and managers. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33:1145–1152. • Crawford Barron A., C. F. Lucash, and V. G. Henry. Red Wolf. Pages 240-247 in J. G. Dickson, editor. Wildlife of southern forests: habitat and management. Hancock House Publishers, Washington, USA. • M. F. Patrick. 2000. Destroying the myth of the big, bad wolf: red wolf protection in gibbsv. babbitt. SC Envtl • Lash Gail Y. B. and P. Black. 2005. Red wolves: creating economic opportunity through ecotourism in rural North Carolina
Literature Cited • Nowak, R.M. 1979. North American Quaternary Canis. Monograph of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 6: 1-154. • Nowak, R.M. 1992. The red wolf is not a hybrid. Conservation Biology 6(4): 593-595. • Mech, L.D. 1970. The Wolf: the ecology and behavior of an endangered species. Natural History Press, Garden City, NY • Lehman, N, A. Eisenhawer, K. Hansen, L.D. Mech, R.O. Petersen, P.J.P. Gogan, R.K. Wayne. 1991. Introgression of coyote mitochondrial DNA into sympatric North American gray wolf populations. Evolution 45(1): 104-119 • Wayne, R.K. and Jenks, S. 1991. Mitochondrial DNA analysis implying extensive hybridization of the endangered red wolf, Canisrufus. Nature(Lond.) 351: 565-568. • Wayne, R.K., and J.L. Gittleman. 1995. The problematic red wolf. Scientific • American. 273(1): 36-39. • Reich, D.E., R.K. Wayne, and D.B. Goldstein. 1999. Genetic evidence for a recent origin by hybridization of red wolves. Molecular Ecology 8(1): 139-145. • Wayne, R.K. 1992. On the use of morphologic and molecular genetic characters to investigate species status. Conservation Biology 6: 590-592. • Wilson, P.J., S. Grewal, I.D. Lawford, J.N.M. Heal, A.G. Granacki, D. Pennock, J.B. Theberge, M.T. Theberge, D.R. Voight, W. Waddell, R.E. Chambers, P.C. Paquet, G. Goulet, D. Cluff and B.N. White. 2000. DNA profiles of the eastern Canadian wolf and the red wolf provide evidence for a common evolutionary history independent of the gray wolf. Canadian Journal of Zoology 78: 2156-2166. • Wilson, P. J., S. Grewal, T. McFadden, R. E. Chambers, and B. N. White. 2003. Mitochondrial DNA extracted from eastern North American wolves killed in the 1800s is not of gray wolf origin. Canadian Journal of Zoology 81:936–940 • Henry, V.G. 1992. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; Finding on a petition to delist the red wolf (Canisrufus). Federal Register 57(8): 1246-1250.
Literature Cited • Adams, J.R., C Lucash, L. Schutte, and L.P. Waits. 2007. Locating hybrid individuals in the red wolf (Canisrufus) experimental population area using a spatially targeted sampling strategy and faecal DNA genotyping. Molecular Ecology 16(9): 1823-1834. • IUCN. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, United Kingdom. • Fredrickson, R.J., and P.W. Hedrick. 2006. Dynamics of hybridization and introgression in red wolves and coyotes. Conservation Biology 20(4):1272-1283. • Kelly, B. T., P.S. Miller, and U.S. Seal (eds.). 1999. Population and habitat viability assessment workshop for the red wolf (Canisrufus). Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG, SSC/IUCN). 88 pp • Ripple, J. W. and R. L. Beschata. 2007. Restoring Yellowstone’s aspen with wolves. Biological Conservation. 138: 514-519. • United States Senate. 2002. Endangered Species Act of 1973. Public Law 92-205. Available from http://epw.senate.gov/esa73.pdf (accessed October 2011). • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS]. 2011. Red wolf recovery program. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Available from http://www.fws.gov/redwolf (accessed October 2011).