USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Is Incest Common In Gray Wolf Packs?

by

Deborah Smith1, Thomas Meier2, Eli Geffen3, L. David Mech4
John W. Burch5, Layne G. Adams6, and Robert K. Wayne1


Wolf packs generally consist of a breeding pair and their maturing offspring that help provision and protect pack young. Because the reproductive tenure in wolves often is short, reproductively mature offspring might replace their parents, resulting in sibling or parent-offspring matings. To determine the extent of incestuous pairings, we measure relatedness based on variability in 20 microsatellite loci of mated pairs, parent-offspring pairs and siblings in two populations of gray wolves. Our 16 sampled mated pairs had values of relatedness not overlapping those of known parent-offspring or sibling dyads, which is consistent with their being unrelated or distantly related. These results suggest that full siblings or a parent and their offspring rarely mate and that incest avoidance is an important constraint on gray wolf behavioral ecology.

Key words: Canis lupus, gray wolves, inbreeding, incest, microsatellites


This resource is based on the following source (Northern Prairie Publication LDM0159):
Smith, Deborah, Thomas Meier, Eli Geffen, L. David Mech, John W. 
     Burch, Layne G. Adams, and Robert K. Wayne.  1997.  Is incest 
     common in gray wolf packs?  Behavioral Ecology 8(4):384-391. 

This resource should be cited as:

Smith, Deborah, Thomas Meier, Eli Geffen, L. David Mech, John W. 
     Burch, Layne G. Adams, and Robert K. Wayne.  1997.  Is incest 
     common in gray wolf packs?  Behavioral Ecology 8(4):384-391.  
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/wfincst/index.htm 
     (Version 02MAR2000).

Table of Contents


1 Department of Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
2 Denali National Park and Preserve, P. O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755, USA.
3 U. S. National Biological Service, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD 20708, USA.
4 Institute for Nature Conservation Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv 69978, Israel.
5 Denali National Park and Preserve, P. O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755, USA.
6 National Biological Service, Alaska Science Center, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99508, USA.
Downloading Instructions -- Instructions on downloading and extracting files from this site.
(Download) wfincst.zip ( 65K) -- Is Incest Common In Gray Wolf Packs? Installation: Extract all files and open index.htm in a web browser.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/wfincst/index.htm
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Saturday, 02-Feb-2013 05:59:56 EST
Menlo Park, CA [caww54]