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Concern has been expressed that European populations of gray wolves (Canis lupus) have extensively hybridized with domestic dogs (C. familiaris). We reviewed and analyzed surveys of mitochondrial and biparentally inherited genetic markers in dogs and wild populations of wolf-like canids. Although dog-wolf hybrids have been observed in the wild, significant introgression of dog markers into wild wolf populations has not yet occurred. Our investigation suggests that hybridization may not be an important conservation concern even in small, endangered wolf populations near human settlements. The behavioral and physiological differences between domestic dogs and gray wolves may be sufficiently great such that mating is unlikely and hybrid offspring rarely survive to reproduce in the wild.
Conservation Biology © 1999 Wiley