Genetic evaluation of the three captive Mexican wolf lineages

Philip W. Hedrick, Philip S. Miller, Eli Geffen, Robert Wayne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The Mexican gray wolf appears to be extinct in the wild and exists now only in captivity. There are three captive putative Mexican wolf lineages: Certified, Ghost Ranch, and Aragón lineages. From pedigree analysis, the Certified lineage has the lowest level of inbreeding and has retained the most founder alleles. In contrast, the Ghost Ranch has a high level of inbreeding and fewest founder alleles. From molecular genetics data, particularly from microsatellite loci, it appears that all of the lineages consist of Mexican wolves, and none of them appear to have ancestry from dogs or coyotes. Further, the molecular data are consistent with the Certified lineage having three founders instead of the four previously assumed. From these findings, we recommend that the three lineages be combined to increase the number of founders and to postpone any inbreeding depression. The combination of pedigree analysis and molecular genetic data allowed us to resolve several long-standing concerns in Mexican wolves. Zoo Biol 16:47-69, 1997.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-69
Number of pages23
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997


  • Founders
  • Genetic variation
  • Inbreeding
  • Microsatellites
  • Pedigrees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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