Coyote scat project

Diet comparison and hybridization analysis between coyotes and wolves using DNA scat analysis.
– Dr. Murray Humphries and Juliana Balluffi-Fry, McGill University

The formerly western stricken coyote (Canis latrans) has only recently become abundant in the east following the region’s gray wolf (Canis lupus) eradication. The eastern coyote’s heredity is disputed; recent studies suggest that this demographic descends from hybridization between the arriving coyote and the then sparsely distributed wolf, so it is likely that their wolf-coyote proportions may differ by location. What is better understood is their diet which, having been predominantly studied using the identification of undigested fecal content, varies with food availability. The goal of this project is to determine the hybridization and detailed summertime feeding habits of coyotes in southwestern Quebec through both fecal microsatellite analysis and the newly developed fecal DNA metabarcoding respectively. With this data, it can be determined if hybridization ratios affect feeding habit, and how generalist these canids are by comparing their prey proportions to prey camera trap-derived abundances. Lastly, a method comparison will be completed for diet identification between the molecular scat analyses and the more traditional, morphological, approach. This project will be useful in helping Kenauk determine their canid populations, for conservation and to inform management decisions related to the properties hunting activities.

Stay tuned for results