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AK: Analysis: Southeast wolves aren’t subspecies

Southeast Alaska’s wolves aren’t as unique as some may think, according to a new scientific report published.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Matthew Cronin published a paper in the Journal of Heredity concluding that Southeast Alaska’s wolves are not a separate subspecies as some have claimed.

“My study provides extensive genetic data,” Cronin said in a news release. “That, along with literature published by other scientists, shows there is no support for the assertion that these wolves are a subspecies.”

Cronin, a research professor in the Palmer office of UAF’s School of Natural Resources and Extension, said his findings are “noteworthy” because of efforts by environmental groups to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf and other wolves on Prince of Wales Island as an endangered subspecies. The wolves are currently being considered “endangered” status 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, which he said “do not support recognition of the wolves in Southeast Alaska as a distinct subspecies.”

Learn more online at jhered.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/11/25/jhered.esu075.full.pdf+html.

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