Below is a flow chart summarizing the 5 main types of Canis (coyotes and wolves) currently described in North America (NA). As depicted in this continuum, Eastern Wolves are the conduit of hybridization for both Gray Wolves (in western Great Lakes and SE Canada) and Coyotes (in SE USA and southern Ontario) which have created the two hybrid types (#2 & 4).
Note: if you have trouble reading the text from the picture above, I have duplicated the information below.
|Body mass (smallest to largest)||Ability to hybridize|
|1. Western Coyote (Canis latrans) – 8.2-13.6 kg
Range: Most of NA south of Arctic circle excluding NE NA
Remarks: Eastern and western coyotes meet at western PA and NY with relatively pure western coyotes in Ohio
2. Eastern Coyote/Coywolf (Canis latrans x lycaon) – 13.6-22.7 kg
Range: NE NA from SE Canada to New Jersey/NY region
Remark: Status of SE USA canids still not fully established but zones of hybridization between western coyotes and red wolves believed to occur
3. Eastern Wolf (Canis lycaon or C. lupus lycaon) – 22.7-31.8 kg
Range: Formerly eastern NA from SE Canada to SE USA; now relict populations (see text)
Remarks: Includes the Red Wolf (C. rufus) in SE USA in this category
4. Gray/Eastern Wolf hybrids (Canis lupus/lycaon and lycaon/lupus) – 27.3-40.9 kg; “Great Lakes wolf”
Range: Great Lakes region between eastern wolf and gray wolf range including MN, MI, WI, and southern Canada around Great Lakes
5. Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) – 36.4-59.1 kg
Range: Western NA into eastern NA where it hybridizes with eastern wolves around the W Great Lakes region
Remarks: Largest types in Alaska down to the Rocky Mountains
Three possible additional genetic and morphological groupings consist of the Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) (vonHoldt et al. 2011; Chambers et al. 2012), the mid-Atlantic Coyote (Canis latrans) (Bozarth et al. 2011), and the southeastern Coyote (Canis latrans) (Adams et al. 2003a, b; vonHoldt et al. 2011). Wolves in Mexico are possibly the remnant of an early expansion of the Gray Wolf into North America, while research in the mid-Atlantic (Virginia) area indicates that Coyotes there are a product of hybridization between northeastern Coyotes from the north and western Coyotes from the west; hence they are an intermediate form between the northeastern Coyote and the western Coyote. vonHoldt et al. (2011) noted that mid-Atlantic and southeastern Coyote also have domestic dog genetic influence, and the southeastern Coyote may also have Red Wolf and/or Gray Wolf influence as well (Adams et al. 2003a, b). Note: references from this paragraph can be found in Way (2013) on the Coywolf Publications Page of this website.