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Genes 2018, 9(12), 618;

Rediscovery of Red Wolf Ghost Alleles in a Canid Population Along the American Gulf Coast

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
Wildlife Biologist, Galveston, TX 77550, USA
Zoological and Environmental Education Department, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, WA 98407, USA
Biology Department, Trent University, Peterborough, ON K9L 1Z8, Canada
Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Yellowstone Center for Resources, National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190, USA
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received: 17 October 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 10 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Genetics and Genomics)
PDF [2389 KB, uploaded 10 December 2018]


Rediscovering species once thought to be extinct or on the edge of extinction is rare. Red wolves have been extinct along the American Gulf Coast since 1980, with their last populations found in coastal Louisiana and Texas. We report the rediscovery of red wolf ghost alleles in a canid population on Galveston Island, Texas. We analyzed over 7000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 60 canid representatives from all legally recognized North American Canis species and two phenotypically ambiguous canids from Galveston Island. We found notably high Bayesian cluster assignments of the Galveston canids to captive red wolves with extensive sharing of red wolf private alleles. Today, the only known extant wild red wolves persist in a reintroduced population in North Carolina, which is dwindling amongst political and taxonomic controversy. Our rediscovery of red wolf ancestry after almost 40 years introduces both positive opportunities for additional conservation action and difficult policy challenges. View Full-Text
Keywords: allele sharing; coyotes; ghost alleles; RADseq; red wolves; remnant genomes allele sharing; coyotes; ghost alleles; RADseq; red wolves; remnant genomes

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Heppenheimer, E.; Brzeski, K.E.; Wooten, R.; Waddell, W.; Rutledge, L.Y.; Chamberlain, M.J.; Stahler, D.R.; Hinton, J.W.; VonHoldt, B.M. Rediscovery of Red Wolf Ghost Alleles in a Canid Population Along the American Gulf Coast. Genes 2018, 9, 618.

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