Our primary objective is to investigate the extent and timing to which canine populations hybridize in various regions of North America using molecular techniques. We hope to find that with an extensive geographic sampling, we will be able to identify the geographic boundaries of this hybrid zone. Using inference methods, we will quantify ancestry at the individual level and track these fragments in various populations to uncover how these fragments may contribute towards local adaptation.
This genetic work relies heavily upon obtaining a small tissue sample of canines and (when possible) some general morphological descriptors (e.g. sex, color, size) as well as the county from which the individual was sampled. We have the following aims to achieve in this project:
- A strong foundation of collaborators and experts
- Sample 50-100 canines from each state in the U.S. and by region in Canada, across the continent
- Include representatives from domestic dogs (AKC and mixed-breed)
- Include representatives from Old World wolves (e.g. Europe)
- Prepare the DNA for high-throughput sequencing
- Perform model-based cluster analysis to identify genetically distinct population segments
- Utilize models to infer ancestry at a per-site and per-individual scale
- Statistical analysis to identify introgression
- Phylogenetic-based methods to assess evolutionary "uniqueness"
*Balloons are provided as an approximate geographic pin, and not intended to indicate the exact location.