Wolf Body Mass, Skull Morphology, and Mitochondrial DNA Haplotypes in the Riding Mountain National Park Region of Manitoba, Canada

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Two types of wolves, gray (Canis lupus L., 1758) and eastern (Canis lupus lycaon Schreber, 1775 or Canis lycaon) or Great Lakes wolves, representing Old World (OW) and New World (NW) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes, have been reported in eastern Canada and the Great Lakes region. Both haplotypes were found in Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Forest, Manitoba. Only OW haplotypes have been reported from the isolated Riding Mountain National Park (RMNP), 30 km to the south. Wolves with NW haplotypes hybridize with C. lupus and coyotes (Canis latrans Say, 1823) and could mediate gene flow between canids. We examined available data on wolf body mass, skull morphology, and mtDNA from the RMNP region, as well as mtDNA from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, to assess the occurrence of NW haplotypes in wolves and possible canid hybridization. Mean body mass of female (n = 54) and male (n = 42) RMNP wolves during 1985–1987 was higher than that of females (n = 12) and males (n = 8) during 1999–2004. Thirteen skull measures from 29 wolf skulls did not suggest significant differences between RMNP and Duck Mountain wolves. Nineteen of 20 RMNP samples had OW haplotypes, whereas one clustered together with NW haplotypes.