Taxonomic Assessment of Coyotes and Domestic Dogs in the Southeastern United States

To assess the taxonomic status of coyotes (Canis tatrans) and domestic dogs (C. jamiliaris) in the southeastern United States, 380 skulls of unknown canids were compared to known skulls of these taxa. Twenty-four cranial characters were employed in a discriminant function analysis to separate statistically unknown canids as to coyote or dog. Hybridization between taxa was minimal. Our results indicate that the predominant wild canid occurring in the southeastern United States is coyote. The method of distinguishing coyotes from dogs based on a ratio of 2 skull features (length of the upper molar tooth row divided by palatal width between the upper first premolars) appears to be useful for separating these taxa.

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