Black wolves are the result of mating with black dog maybe 15,000 years ago

Introduction of domestic dog genes into wild wolves long ago gave us black wolves-

Traits from domestic animals are usually thought to be harmful to their wild cousins, but in the case of the black dog or dogs mating with wolves long ago, a beneficial trait was passed on and conserved. “Apparently, natural selection has increased the frequency of black coat color dramatically in wolf populations across North America,” Co-author Robert K. Wayne said. “It must have adaptive value that we don’t yet understand. It could be camouflage, or strengthening the immune system to combat pathogens, or it could reflect a preference to mate with individuals of a different coat color.”

The pedigrees of the Yellowstone wolves were instrumental in discovering the inheritance pattern of this genotype.

There were many stories about the finding in the news today.

New World Wolves and Coyotes Owe Debt to Dogs. New York Times. By Mark Derr.

Black Wolves the Result of Interbreeding With Dogs. By Michael Wall. Wired.

Biologists solve mystery of black wolves. UCLA newsroom.

Wolf In Dog’s Clothing? Black Wolves May Be First ‘Genetically Modified’ Predators. Science Daily

I received a copy of the full scientific article from one of the authors.The title is: “Molecular and Evolutionary History of Melanism in North American Gray Wolves.” By Tovi M. Anderson,1 Bridgett M. vonHoldt,2 Sophie I. Candille,1 Marco Musiani,3 Claudia Greco,4 Daniel R. Stahler,2,5 Douglas W. Smith,5 Badri Padhukasahasram,6 Ettore Randi,4 Jennifer A. Leonard,7 Carlos D. Bustamante,6 Elaine A. Ostrander,8 Hua Tang,1 Robert K. Wayne,2 Gregory S. Barsh1. Science Express.

A first: Idaho wolf migrates to Yellowstone Park. Joins Sloughs

It is said all the time that Yellowstone Park is a source of wolves — wolves don’t migrate into the Park, only out of it. This has been demonstrated to be true . . . almost.

Last spring Dr. Doug Smith spotted a new wolf in the Slough Creek Pack. After a while, and I’m not sure when, they noticed that while he had a radio collar, it didn’t seem to work. Eventually they noticed he had blue ear tags (given to wolves collared in Idaho). Finally they discovered the collar did work and was close to the frequency of Idaho wolf B195M, who originated in the central Idaho White Cloud Mountains (Lynne’s Stone’s country). They made the call apparently, and decided he is that wolf from Idaho.

Folks might recall that last summer the Slough Creek Pack got a new alpha male, when the old alpha male was hit by a car in the Park. The aggressive new Slough alpha, wolf 590M (who came from the nearby Agate Creek pack) seems to have forced B195M out of the pack.

Dan Stahler told me today that B195M now seems to be “associating” with a Slough female (527F) who has left the pack.

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Several wolves from Wyoming (not from the Park, however)have dispersed to central Idaho; and one is known to have come from Idaho to Wyoming. He joined in the formation of the Greybull Pack. B195M, however, seems to be the very first wolf from anywhere outside the near vicinity of Yellowstone Park to enter and find a place with a pack.

There is concern that the wolf populations, especially the Yellowstone Park wolf population, and maybe others if there is a big state sanctioned wolf slaughter could lose its fine genetic diversity. Interstate migrations might mitigate this. Of course, the migrants have to breed and the pups survive and breed for this to happen.

A paper or two is currently underway to investigate if there has been identifiable genetic exchange between the 3 wolf population segments — central Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.