My SF Coyote DNA Study Continues

Monica Serrano in Dr. Benjamin Sacks’ lab (MECU) at U.C. Davis has analyzed the scats that I’ve been collecting and here is her fabulous summary poster! The first samples which I started collecting in 2008 were analyzed and reported in a previous poster by Dr. Ben Sacks’ lab in 2018.

I have been collecting these samples mostly from individuals as I saw them defecate, so I knew which samples belonged to which coyote, and those I didn’t see I knew what family group they were from. And having observed these coyotes over many years — I recognize and can identify each by their face — I knew each individual’s relationships within their families, their birthdates, and their sex (I did not include any of the vast information I have on their individual personalities and interactions). I delivered these, along with my questions, to Dr. Ben Sacks whose lab then did all this work. My questions had been about the population’s genetic relationships beyond their nuclear families which might reveal the alphas’/parents’ original birth-territories (though I also wanted to see what the DNA would confirm about their relationships within their families — which is what I had found out by direct observation), and I wanted to establish what percentage of the population in San Francisco originated from the original Mendocino County coyotes that were found here in 2002, versus any that might have migrated in from the south of the city. It appears none have migrated into the city from the south.

This new DNA analysis is not only interesting for confirming the family units and inbreeding I’ve been seeing (the analyses indicate there were as few as four founding coyotes to the present coyote population of 60 to 100), but also for its potential in further research to determine coyote movements without radio collars, which are extremely invasive. It’s a win-win for our coyote population! [You might be interested in reading about Detrimental Effects of Radio Collars].

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jo Thompson
    Feb 28, 2020 @ 18:46:28

    Exciting!!! Thank you for sharing.


  2. Hilary Cole
    Mar 03, 2020 @ 17:27:16

    Extremely interesting Janet… thanks for sharing your information…

    Hilary 😊


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