Friday, December 5, 2014

Analysis shows Southeast Alaska wolves not subspecies

University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Matthew Cronin has published a paper in the Journal of Heredity concluding that Southeast Alaska's wolves are not a separate subspecies.
“My study provides extensive genetic data. That, along with literature published by other scientists, does not support the assertion that these wolves are a subspecies,” Cronin said. “This is noteworthy because the wolves in Southeast Alaska are being considered for listing as endangered subspecies. The Alexander Archipelago wolf and the wolves on Prince of Wales Island are currently being considered for listing as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."

The paper, titled “Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Variation of Wolves in Southeast Alaska and Comparison with Wolves, Dogs and Coyotes in North America,” was written by Cronin and University of California Davis colleagues.

“There is considerable differentiation of wolves in Southeast Alaska from wolves in other areas,” Cronin said. “However, wolves in Southeast Alaska are not a genetically homogenous group, and there are comparable levels of genetic differentiation among areas within Southeast Alaska and between Southeast Alaska and other geographic areas.”

Cronin conducted DNA tests and reviewed published findings on wolf genetics. “They do not support recognition of the wolves in Southeast Alaska as a distinct subspecies,” he said.

The results also show the wolves on Prince of Wales Island are not highly differentiated compared to other populations in Southeast Alaska, which Cronin said indicates they do not warrant recognition as a distinct population segment.

Cronin is a research professor in the Palmer office of UAF's School of Natural Resources and Extension. Contact him at, 907-227-1753.

ON THE WEB: Journal of Heredity

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