Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Frank Schitoskey

Second Advisor

Charles G. Scalet


Expansion of the range of the coyote (Canis latrans) has been accompanied by numerous instances of hybridization with domestic dogs (C. familiaris). Recent studies have found a hybrid element in some wild coyote populations. The objectives of this study were to identify the taxonomic status of coyotes in western South Dakota, and to determine the degree of hybridization, if any, that is occurring between coyotes and domestic dogs in the state. Animals were collected from three areas in western South Dakota from September 1976 through January 1978. Skulls of 289 wild canids were cleaned; of these, 167 skulls from adults of known sex were suitable for analysis. Seven cranial and tooth measurements were taken on each skull. Discriminant function analysis and canonical variable analysis were used to determine the taxonomic status of specimens. Each specimen was compared to six target populations of possible parent species. No specimens analyzed could be positively identified as anything other than coyotes. Five individuals were of undetermined taxonomic status. The reason for the lack of hybrids in South Dakota coyote populations may be either that hybrids are not surviving in the wild or that hybridization is not occurring on a large scale. The two hypotheses are considered, and it is concluded that hybridization is not occurring to any great extent in western South Dakota coyote populations.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Coyots -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 27-29)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only